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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Season 4 and other stuff

Its been a while since I made any posts here, I get distracted by shiny things and to be honest I have been more eager to actually race than to write :) In fact my last post was during Season 3 week 13 and it is now in fact Season 4 week 13, so three months have gone by

Anyway, since my last post we were about to start Season 4 2011 at iracing, 12 weeks of racing a different track each week all vying for the overall series championship.

As in my last post I decided to run my first full season in the Radical SR8, a fantastic zippy car with plenty of balls. They race them all around the world now with their popularity increasing. For an overview of the car their official site is here:

Season 4 Begins

A special note on the below, even though the iracing season is 12 weeks long, you only need to do 8 weeks with an official race to do a  'full' season as far as points are concerned. This allows people to take a 'drop' week or 4 if circumstances do not allow for racing, or one simply does not like the track. For instance I took a deliberate drop week for the round at Zandvoort as I hate that track in the SR8. This write up only includes the rounds that I officially ran, so there will not be a full 12 rounds detailed.

I wont dwell on too much detail as there was a lot to cover for the entire season. The season started at Watkins Glenn on the classic configuration, a shorted version of the track. My first race week ever here was a mixed bag. Early on I made a very rookie mistake, going too deep into the Carousel, a long sweeping right hand corner that can be tricky and T-boned another driver, effectively ending our races. I still feel terrible about it as it was only due to lack of experience that it happened.

On the plus side my 4th race saw me both start and finish in 2nd place netting my my first decent points haul, as well as points for the regional club championship.

Round 2 saw us move to Mosport International raceway, a track that at first I was not happy with, but testing and a decent setup has cemented it as one of my faves. This track/car combo is one of the best I can think of. Two races here saw two top 10 spots and more points.

Round 3 was at Suzuka, a classic race course but very tough to master. Ran 3 races here with mixed results, but two more top 10 places were involved.

Round 4 was at Silverstone in England, and was the first of the long format races of the season. To this point race lengths were 45mins timed, however Silverstone saw the length increased to 60mins. However, as things worked out I only got to run 1 race for this round, finishing 7th.

Round 5: Oulton Park Circuit.Oh man!

Ok this track is brand new to iracing and the first time any of us ran it in a series. Initial test proved to be a crazy arse goat track winding through the British country side but I picked up a practice partner for this round and we just ran lap after lap, sharing setups and this track is now my number 1 favorite track in the Radical. We ran the International configuration with no chicanes, so we retained a corner known as Knickerbrook, an almost flat chat right hand kink that I believe is rarely if ever ran in real life racing now in its original form due to safety reasons, with the usual configuration adding a chicane just before it to slow everyone down. However, in a computer game you don't need to worry about dying so Knickerbrook is go go go. Blasting down the straight, a slight lift and downshift, throw it through the corner, up a little hill and blasting into another double apex turn called Druids and you have one of the scariest and most exciting corner series in virtual racing. Watch the below vid. Knickerbrook is at 49 seconds in.

I ran 4 races here, three more top 10's in the bag and more fun than I have had in ages.

Round 5 - Brands hatch. Emits an inward groan. Classic track but so so hard to master and is the kind of track to catch many people off guard and crash them out. Turn 4 is a particularly tough corner to get right. 3 races here, best result a 5th. lots of spins and crashes however.

Round 6 moved us to Mid Ohio Sports Car Course. Now I am of the honest opinion that this track was designed but some drunk who drove a John Deer around for an afternoon and stepped back and thought, "Yep, she'll do" Elevation changes, twisty turns and only one real decent straight means you have to be on your game the whole race through. It has a couple of hairpins that are a real pain in the arse, Turn 2 I hate. However overall all the track turned out to be both a challenge and a damn lot of fun.

The most significant thing about his round was Mid Ohio so not only my first Pole Position but I also went on to get my first win in the Radical!! Woot! A very tough race, being chased by a slightly faster driver the whole time, yet I never lost the lead and got lucky with the lapped traffic to take the checkered flag and have a small stroke afterwards.

It is not all serious business however and following is a small vid of a funny incident during practice with a fellow Aussie (and Brisbane) driver. he is in the front, I am following in the white car, perhaps a little too closely.

The next couple of weeks saw a very low attendance rate by myself, I got one race at Raod Atlanta which was ruined by my pit limiter begin stuck on somehow, and never got back to the track for another race, so round 7 was a waste.

Round 8, and also officially round 12 and the Season closer brought the screaming engines of 700+ Radical races to the picturesque surrounds of Circuit de Spa Francorchamps in Belgium. every knows this track, most love it. The Radical is a work of art on here, a good setup and it simply flows around the track without thinking about it. I got 3 races here, finishing 5th, 8th and 6th to finish up the season

So with Spa finished it was tally up the points.

My personal season ran as I actually hoped, with all but one of my goals achieved, which was to finish in the top 100, I fell just short at 102, despite being 95 at the start of the week. Others simply got better results than I. I did however finish 2nd in my Divisional Championship, which exceeded my goal of a top 5.

It was a fantastic season, and a great learning experience. I went form not having done much Sim racing for a long long time to running a reasonable pace and getting reasonable results. With Season 1 2012 just around the corner I can only hope, and expect to improve.

Other Highlights:

Intel GT Series

Intel sponsored a race series, collecting the best drivers from around the world and putting up $5000 USD of prizes to the best. Qualifying went form region to region and I participated in the Australia/International/Africa  qualifiers. The races were run at Spa in the Honda Acura HPD ARX-01c Prototype. The top 20 drivers on points at the end of the week, of which I was just able to sneak in at 20th went through to the Regional Final which was held in January. I ran the race but was unable to compete with the best of our local talent and finished 13th and did not qualify for the World final and the $3500 grand final prize.

Oval Racing.

I love oval racing, but hate short tracks and at the rookie levels of iracing its mostly short tracks. However when the Street Stock cars came to Charlotte Speedway I was keen to have a crack, being a larger 1.5mile oval. I wanted to get a bit more large track experience as I have been wishing to race either the Dallara Indy car or one of the NASCAR series later down the track. So I ran a heap of races that week due to low participation for official races (need 8 cars registered for a race to score championship points) in the Radical. Hilariously my first race for the week resulted in an unexpected win:

This seasons week 13 has allowed me to race the top NASCAR Impala at Talledega, more Street Stock at Charlotte and perhaps by the end of the week I will get a chance to run the Indy car as well.

Final thoughts:

Season 4 is about to begin hooray. My focus will again be on the Radical but have a few more testing and development goals for this season. I am going to look at a lot more laps in cars like the Riley Daytona Prototype and Indy car, both on road and oval tracks and I have this weekend end begun testing the C Class Chevrolet Silverado NASCAR Truck.

Anyway will wrap things up here, been a monster post but wanted to get it done all at once so I can go back to testing the Silverado.

Hopefully I can find the time to keep this blog more up to date as well.

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