Archive for August, 2008

Public Launch & Week 4 Race!

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
My Helmet Design Summit Point Raceway

Yesterday saw the public doors open to iRacing and the first of the ‘uninvited customers’. As of today there are some 4200 accounts in the community and around 2700 of them raced last week. The iRacing press release mentions ‘thousands of new members’ so it should be interesting to see this number grow over the next few weeks and months. The more the merrier!

In other news I did my weekly Advanced Solstice race on Monday, and it was probably a mistake. I had finished my setup (or near enough) and run about 200 laps in practice and time trial. I wasn’t feeling especially fast really, my average laptime was around 60.2 seconds. The problem started when I saw that a quali session was starting up, and as I like to race with some real traffic I thought I would join that instead of starting a practice session (which would be empty). So I entered the quali and found myself lapping consistently, with a few sub 60 second laps, and a quali time of 59.699 which was pretty high up the rankings.

So with that in mind I decided to hop straight into a race session, riding the laptime high of the previous session.

Unfortunately I wasn’t quite at the pace that I wanted to be and my race pace was a touch over 60.1 seconds. I started on pole and lapped consistently, if not rapidly (I was giving the final corner a lot of respect) but on lap 18 I made a mistake which saw me half spin and lose the lead. Kudos to the second place guy because he narrowly dodged me and we avoided incident points.

I was pretty distracted in the few corners immediately after and made a slight mistake which affected my exit of another high speed corner and I lost 2nd soon after, despite feeling I had the speed to keep him behind. Despite this, I had an enjoyable final six laps and could put some pressure on 2nd, which saw him out of shape and a bit rattled. Not enough laps left, however, and I finished 3rd.

I was still pleased with the result although I knew I’d not get much for 3rd in a field where I was ranked #1, but still I netted 92 points. Given the fact I’m not in love with Jefferson @ Summit Point I think I’ll accept my weekly points tally and not race again this week. I think it was a mistake to race so early in the week, and I think if I had ran more laps I could have a race pace of under 60 seconds easily (I’m still taking the final corner way too slow).

I’ll put in a few more laps yet, working towards a good time trial result, and will put in some Skippy practice at Lime Rock Park. Next week the Solstice series rotates around to the week 1 track which is Summit Point Full Circuit and the home of my highest ever points tally….

My Solstice

Week 3 review : Solstice at Laguna!

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
My Helmet Design Laguna Seca

Week 3 is done with and it was a mixed bag. Early on in the week I had been working on my setup and in the early part of the week I had something comfortable to work with. I love Laguna and was really looking forward to a few races there this week.

My first race was great and very eventful. I started from second on the grid and got off to a good start, and cleanly away. No issues in the first few laps and we quickly settled into a race pace. After a short time the lead car made a mistake on the front stretch and I was promoted to the lead! The following video showcases the opening action (excuse the poor quality footage).

However, the spinner was clearly a faster car and he soon hooked up his car and began eroding my lead. Although his spin put him third, he quickly despatched second and moved onto taking the lead again. This footage from his perspective.

Soon I was passed and tried to keep pace in second, but I was falling back each lap. Then, as we started the last lap I was gifted a lifeline in the form of a penalty for the leader. He had cut the corkscrew corner and had a ‘go slow’ penalty, allowing me to hop into the lead again. I had to keep it on track for one lap to steal the win….

So, second place and 100+ points (my target for the week).

I joined other races and had a mix of similar results (second placings in high strength-of-fields) but unfortunately I also had two awful finishes that saw me net <20 points. My weekly score was 84 points, which is far below what I am aiming for in the standings. I guess I can nullify these results by having week 3 become a 'drop' week but it's a bit early to be thinking about that.

I also had my first encounters with some of the pro drivers in iRacing this week (glad to see them racing the Solstice!). First up was Justin Wilson who qualified 3rd to my 2nd. Here are the opening corners from Justin's view :

And later on was a race with AJ Allmendinger. Sadly that was one of the results that saw me spin and damage my car so I wasn’t able to dice it up with him, except I will say that he is FAST.

Overall I was disappointed with the two poor races that brought my average down (without which I’d be up in the 110pt region) but each accident has given me something to learn from and made me realise that losing a position is far far better than going off track, or worse, having to reset the car.

Next week we go to new track (for me) of Jefferson @ Summit Point…

My Solstice

Week 3 and the divisions are out!

Monday, August 18th, 2008
My Helmet Design Laguna Seca

Week 3 has the Advanced Solstice series at Laguna, and this is a track I know well. I spent a lot of time there last season in the rookie series so I’m really looking forward to going back with the advanced car and seeing how much faster I can go. I’ve also been spending a lot of time working with the setup changes allowed in this series and I’m really happy with how you can adjust the feel of the car to a particular driving style – very cool.

The start of week 3 also is the first time the racers get to find out which division they’ve been allocated to. Based on iRating, I have been put into 40-strong division 3, which I’m really pleased about. There are ten divisions all told, and the current allocation (which won’t change all season) means I am currently leading the standings with 261 points, with Chris Hannigan in 2nd with 227 points. This is the result of some fortunate victories in weeks one and two, where I capitalised on some strong strength-of-field races with wins and netted some high points (137 and 124 points respectively). I don’t anticipate being able to lead the standings all the way to the end but my division 3 goal is a top 3 placing, and a top 20 placing in the overall standings (i.e. all divisions).

I’m also going to have a fair go at the time trial championship too (currently third overall). Unfortunately there’s no way to compete in time trial divisions (at least, there’s no simple way to view the rankings). iRacing tend to push ttRating to the back seat compared to iRating and racing (which is fair enough, but at least allow people to participate in a meaningful time trial championship).

As of right now I’ve worked a little on my Laguna setup, and the car is handling nicely. I started off a baseline of my Lime Rock Park setup, with some adjusted tyre pressure and some revised camber settings to account for the demands of Laguna Seca. The car is handling fantastically, and I love driving it here. The setup is very neutral, with a sharp and responsive initial turn-in (the front end really bites in), no understeer mid-corner, and the car reacts to the throttle post-corner excellently, allowing the driver to rotate the car without the rear end breaking away. I don’t anticipate any further changes all week (message me if you want my setup).

Given that I have the setup down and it’s only Monday I expect to run a fair few races this week, and with time left over I might borrow a Skippy setup and run my first races with it (the series is as Summit Point this week).