A slight wind of madness blew over the VEC-Simracing during the weeks leading up to the first “Road Warrior” of the year on iRacing, the 24H of Daytona. Traditionally, and for a few editions now, our commitment to this event is focused on the GTLM category. What if…

What if we tried this brand new prototype, the Dallara P217, released on our simulation in the last quarter of 2020. This is the little music that appeared in early December for many of our drivers. At the same time, however, learning how to drive a car miles away from what we’re used to and our commitments in private championships and other official series were going to put a lot of work in front of us. Nevermind, challenge accepted!

A challenge for EVERYONE

After a race that ended too early during the 12-hours race for MacMillan Cancer Support in December on the same Daytona circuit, at the wheel of a GT1 this time, Louis Delétraz was enthusiastic at the idea of sharing the wheel with us once again. Initially, three Dallara P217s were planned alongside the unshakeable 911 RSR, still there to perpetuate the tradition.

But from connection issues to health problems and unfortunately, with the announcement of a death in the family of one of our pilots, it would be necessary to completely overhaul the LMP2 crews within 48 hours from the start and reduce the wing to two prototypes and one GTLM. First test for the nerves of our pilots…

Indeed, all the teams registered at the 14h start had to be patient and equip themselves with a good dose of positivism on the D-day. Facing a new attendance record by far (47 splits!), iRacing encountered the biggest difficulties in its history when it came time to launch the race servers. The 2pm start would simply never take place. Never seen before… Fortunately, the solution was found and everyone managed to take the track about 5 hours later than originally planned. In spite of all these trials, the great mass of January would finally be able to start.

VEC-Simracing JAUNE (A.Blomme – L.Delétraz – M.Thomas – R.Virlouvet)

VEC-Simracing JAUNE

Split 8 (20 LMP2) – Q: 4 > Winner

Louis Delétraz, a “veteran” of endurance racing after his double participation in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, first virtual in June on rFactor2 and then real in September at the wheel of a Rebellion Racing LMP1, put the JAUNE crew’s Dallara into orbit. While most teams were content with a triple stint at the start of the race, or even a double for those who were more cautious, the Swiss driver quietly completed a triple, then a quadruple. Simply as that…

The #722 solidly positioned at the forefront, a first alert would however quickly remind everyone that simracing is also, from a certain point of view, a motor sport. Romain’s throttle fails and it is only thanks to the ingenuity of his equipment that he would nevertheless be able to reach the pits by his own means. On this occasion, the quartet would make its unique and brief excursion out of the top 4 during these 24 hours.

Indeed, the rhythm displayed by the four men and above all, an iron discipline to get out of the traffic without danger and thus spare tires and fuel, would allow them to quickly find the top of the ranking. A slight contact in the middle of the night would still slow down the march towards victory but the relentless strategy of the JAUNE would nevertheless allow them to triumph on this first event of the year, one minute ahead of our fellow countrymen of the Optimal Simracing Purple who deserved it indeed.

 

VEC-Simracing CYAN (A.Godefroy – J.Hoppé – S.Reithmuller)

Split 9 (20 LMP2) – Q: 14 > P9

Getting very close to find themselves in the same split as the sister car, the CYAN crew was led by the only trio of our contingent after the upheavals mentioned above. At the wheel of a car as physical as the Dallara P217, the term “endurance” was about to take its full meaning for its drivers.

Indeed, after Jeremy’s triple stint at the start, without a hitch despite the intensity, the plan was to drive quadruples almost all the way to the finish. From 23 to 24 laps per stint depending on the greed of the pilots, the bruised wrists will remember this first experience for a long time.

Here again, the watchword was to limit the risks as much as possible. Time to take their marks in the traffic, everyone would probably let go a few seconds superfluous at the beginning of the race but very quickly, the fall of the other competitors would find our drivers to be right. At the end of third hour, the gates of the top 5 are already taking shape and despite a few collisions without consequences the sun rises on Daytona with a #324 firmly anchored in fourth position, with legitimate views on the podium.

But shortly after dawn, just when the race’s physiognomy dictated a sustained pace, a somewhat hasty choice would lead to a seemingly harmless contact with a GTD and a forced pit stop for eight minutes. The hopes of a podium finish and even a top five finish over, so we’d have to be content with the initial objective for this first in P217, which was to reach the finish line. Mission accomplished…

 

VEC-Simracing MAGENTA (G.Furtos – S.Modde – S.Moraine – N.Sampedro Lerida)

Split 15 (16 GTLM) – Q: 3 > P6

What could be better for endurance race than to ride on a horse you know by heart? This is the reason why the MAGENTA has chosen to rely on the faithful Porsche 911 RSR. Obviously, this thought was also the majority among the iRacers, although we have never seen such a balanced distribution between the different categories (30 splits with P2/GTLM/GTD, 12 P2/GTLM splits and only 5 full GTLM).

Emotional elevator and roller coaster in the rankings. This is how to sum up the race of the Franco-Belgian quartet. Indeed, despite the quite reasonable average iRating in this split, it is the track behaviour of some of the drivers that was average. As a proof, the hecatomb within the GTLM category which will see only half of its members at the finish line. Just as observed by the comrades of the split 9, it seems that many drivers present on this event were in fact not familiar with multiclass racing.

A bad for a good, with each misadventure of the #727, the fate of its opponents and its rhythm on the track would allow it to climb back into the top 5. However, the MAGENTA would have to face a hazard that was not expected before the start. Indeed, the delay at the start of the race changed the schedule and some drivers weren’t able to drive as much as planed. This might explain the “fuel failure” and a final pirouette in the last hours of the race. Once again, considering the result sheet, seeing the checkered flag was already a reward in itself in this split.

 

Baptised

This was a baptism for many of our drivers. A first endurance in prototype for many of them, a first race in a Dallara P217 for some, a first Road Warrior on iRacing for Louis Delétraz and a first 24-hour race starting at 7pm CET for all…

In spite of this and despite the last minute changes we had to face, everyone was able to learn and show adaptability. If the MAGENTA and the CYAN may have a legitimate feeling of frustration, we are delighted with the victory of the JAUNE, the second for the VEC-Simracing on a 24H race in less than a year. Can’t wait for Bathurst! 2021 is off to a good start.
A.G