24 Hours + A Lap

Pulled it off.  We ran 729 scored laps in the 24 Hours of Daytona race on iRacing.  Then our team leader – who ran the last stint – decided to run just one. More. Lap.  Just because…

We finished 12th in our class (mult-class) and 28th over all out of 43 cars.  We really did well considering that we were in a split that was ideally a better group of drivers than our team.  We made the decision before the race to use the one team mate’s high iRacing score to help get us in with a better group for the race.  A higher “iRating” is indicative of a driver that does well in “official” iRacing races.  With so many drivers wanting to run a race on the iRacing service, iRacing divides up the drivers/teams based on iRating and creates several instances of a race.  The drivers/teams are grouped based on their iRatings.  Higher scores are grouped together and such.  In the team events like the Daytona 24, the driver that registers for the race has his score taken into account for which instance or “split” in which the team will compete.  Our teammate was a driver with a high score, and we took advantage of that fact to be with better drivers.

We learned a lot from the better drivers, and had so much fun racing with a group of drivers that race hard but clean.  The really cool part for me was the fact that 3 of the 5 of us had never raced in an endurance event like that.  I’ve been in 5 now.  While the “newness” has worn off, I still really enjoy the “work” it takes to keep the virtual car alive in the simulator and finish such a long race.  But it was very cool to help the newbies get their first taste of it.  They loved it, and we’re already talking about the 12 Hours at Sebring race.  Gluttons for punishment, I suppose 😉

So, what’s the big deal of running hundreds of laps?  It’s more than just the laps.  It’s the planning and making strategies and schedules and, and, and…  the story

In the second hour of the race, one of the guys wrecked the car really bad.  It was a simple lapse of concentration, but it cost us dearly in car damage.  38 minutes in the pits got us enough repairs to get the car back on track, but it was 20+ mph slower than it had been due to body damage (causing aerodynamic problems) and engine damage (reduced horsepower).  We were being passed by everybody like we were standing still.  It was very frustrating and disconcerting.  We were still trying to run, but we were also trying very hard not to be a danger to others on the track due to our lack of speed (believe me, it makes a difference).

Then 2 hours later, the damaged engine spontaneously blows.  We managed to coast the car back to the pit box where we waited another 42 minutes to have the engine replaced.  All the while our competition is clicking off laps.  We ended up dead last waiting for the engine replacement.  iRacing simulates the approximate time it takes to make a multitude of repairs on a race car, including engine replacement. Real life race teams typically have backups for everything in a car for endurance races, so iRacing simulates what it can.  The simulation didn’t replace the engine the first time for some unknown reason.  Maybe this was because it calculated a higher probability of the engine lasting than it did, but when it started simulating engine stress on the track, it also started simulating degradation… and eventually death :-/

24 hours later, though, with a mostly repaired car and some good clean driving by all of us (a great team effort) we took it from dead last and finished up higher than we though we could.  We passed other cars mostly due to them spending time in the pits for repairs of their own.  On occasions, though, we had to race for position.  That’s the big deal…

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