For this second “road warrior” of the year, iRacing wanted to avoid the mayhem of the 24H of Daytona with servers congested to the point of delaying the start of the most popular time slot by nearly 6 hours. To do so, four scheduled starts were available to participate in the 12H of Bathurst 2021. Good idea, really? Everyone will make his own opinion but it is undeniable that some servers depopulated in unreasonable proportions as soon as the slightest glitch occurred to some and others. Nevertheless, this will have allowed some to take part in this unmissable event which they would not have been able to attend without this arrangement. Shades of grey…

We thus engaged a total of 5 crews and the VEC-Simracing was represented on three of the four starts on the program. All our eggs in the same basket, our choice was early made to go on the very recent BMW M4 GT3, replacing the late Z4. The ease inspired by this car would prove to be a wise choice as for some of us, endurance was still an unknown or long-forgotten land.

VEC-Simracing MAGENTA: Sylvain Moraine – Jonathan Razanahoera – Sebastien Reithmuller

Start #1 – split 1/7 – Q:29 > P17/49

Friday night starters were sure to face the Australians. Probably over-excited to do their home “round-the-clock” race, some of them were clearly approaching this event in a state of mind that is the opposite of what is dictated by endurance. No wonder why a number of cars will be loaded onto the tow truck before they even cross the starting line… But as we know, Mount Panorama conceals many traps, even without the most excited people.

Starting with those internal to the team. It is indeed a disconnection (aka “puncture”) which will come to ring the first real alarm for Jonathan after only 20 minutes of racing. The night was going to be long… But as talent and/or patience were obviously rare commodities among the other crews, the MAGENTA could quickly start its comeback. The 100% VEC presidential duo, started from second to last after this first misadventure and was back in the top 15 after 5 hours of racing, two laps behind the leader.

It is then that the fate stroke again. Second “puncture”, causing this time a more consequent delay. From then on and although almost half of the field was decimated, it is likely that the motivation of our two Sarthe residents was somewhat reduced. This is probably what can explain the wake-up breakdowns they suffered afterwards, leaving Seb (hired to help) to reach the finish line after a monstrous relay of almost 4 hours! Hats off to Mr. Reithmuller. 17th out of only 23 classified cars; the effects of the “multi-start” were already being felt…

VEC-Simracing JAUNE: Aymeric Blomme – Jérémy Hoppé

Start #3 – split 4/30 – Q:DNQ > P8/55

Our two regional crews, the “100% North team” and the “100% Swiss team” were in the same split (spoiler: not for long). Although having lived on the country-continent for some time, Aymeric wasn’t inspired by his return to the southern hemisphere and the two long-time friends agreed to start from the back of the grid. Surprise, Nicky Thiim was at their side. Not for long either… Tough split for the pro drivers!

True to himself, Jérem starts the race with economy, allowing the duo to score 12th after only 3 hours of racing. Indeed, here again, the “multi-start” effect is devastating, certainly amputating a part of the competition since only 21 teams will be classified in this split. Such a shame. Anyway, the absent ones are always wrong…

Taking advantage of this hecatomb and the benefits of having trained on a hot track conditions, the JAUNE BMW continues its irresistible ascent in the ranking, slaloming between wrecks and other wild kangaroos. After having swallowed 48 competitors in succession, it is already in 4th place after about 8 hours of racing. Unfortunately, is it the fact of driving down under, the incessant climbs and descents or the prospect of a possible podium, but a moment of deconcentration will lead to a “car contact”. 6min30 of optional repairs that the duo will naturally choose not to take but which will be a ball and chain to drag over the last two hours.

Farewell to podium hopes, from now on they would have to go and find out what the car’s performance would still allow. Still, this incident would allow the northerners to cross swords with a team that we now know well, the Maniti Racing. If the fight is unfair regarding the damage, it is nonetheless a fiercely battle but even a double stint to conclude the race will do nothing about it. Eighth of this split, it is nevertheless the insurance to obtain the 79th overall result out of 2520 crews engaged this weekend… Not bad!

VEC-Simracing ROUGE: Alexandre Godefroy – Sylvain Moraine – Romain Virlouvet

Start #3 – split 7/30 – Q:31 > P8/54

Ahead of this event, Alex presents a solid record of 100% of cars in the wall over the three previous editions of the 12H of Bathurst, each time in the final hours of the race. In order to ward off fate, he would therefore take the start for the first time here. A risky gamble… but a successful one. Indeed, he will manage to sneak into the heart of the pack before the inevitable “big one” creates a traffic jam, allowing him to give himself some air quite quickly.

Here again, the “multi-start” has devastating effects and ROUGE finishes its first stint in 3rd position, after having completed one or even two laps more than everyone else. Fifteenth when leaving the pits, here is a well launched race in spite of a tiny touch in the descent. Enough to slowly but surely tackle the duel with the crew of the V10R eSport #1.

Since the last 24 Hours of Le Mans on iRacing and the first challenge launched by the team with the bulldog, the direct confrontations in endurance gives an advantage to the VEC-Simracing, 2 heats to 1. Could these 12 Hours of Bathurst be the match point? The cyan and black Ferrari quickly showed their game with a Bastien Perez on fire literally depositing Romain, yet the fastest of the ROUGE crew.

But the race is long and the strategies are shifting. We will thus see audacious teams regularly changing only two tires. Quickly, this move will pay off and on many occasions it will be necessary to overtake again on the track those having gained an advantage in the pitlane, making the race even more interesting. And on this demanding track, no one is safe from a mistake. So, probably wanting to spice up the second half of the race, the V10R will do a small artistic figure, without any consequences. But still enough to put our trio back in the game and offer many encounters on the track, with the hunted becoming the hunters and vice versa.

Without any notable incident during these 12 hours, the ROUGE will thus offer itself the right to dream of a top 5 until the last hour. But here again, the strategies of the other competitors proving to be more effective and the Ferrari #26 still mighty fast, these 12 Hours spent on the Mountain ended in eighth place and on a 2-2 against the V10R. When will the decisive round take place?

VEC-Simracing CYAN: Sebastien Guyonnet – Sebastien Reithmuller

Start #3 – split 11/30 – Q:DNQ > P19/54

12H on Bathurst with only two drivers is already some kind of challenge. Even more for the 100% Seb duo… Indeed, after having had to ensure the interim longer than expected at the end of the race of the MAGENTA, Seb Reith naturally had to give himself a little rest before tackling the Mountain again. So it was Seb Guyonnet who was in charge of setting off in the Australian night for his return to the simulation after several months. Quite a challenge!

Challenge taken up to perfection. Starting from the back of the grid to avoid additional stress, he will ensure the first relay without any incident and with the luxury of refueling later than most of the pack. Enough to give the steering wheel to his teammate in the best conditions. Unfortunately, in the last few hectometers of the next double stint, the BMW will get a taste of Australian concrete. Seven laps lost…

From then on, CYAN will only be able to count on the incidents of its competitors. They will be numerous. It is thus a slow but irresitible rise in the rankings which eventually ends in the top 20. A single moment of deconcentration and the Mountain will crush you. Bathurst is cruel.

VEC-Simracing VERT: Louis Delétraz – Mathieu Hermann – Fabian Menetrey

Start #3 – split 4/30 – Q:19 > DNF —- Start #4 – split 1/12 – Q:16 > DNF

Switzerland may be a mountainous territory, but it will not have been of any help for our 100% Swiss crew. After its victory at the beginning of the year during the iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona, Louis Delétraz challenged its compatriots of the VEC-Simracing to do Bathurst together. However, legend says that the last time we saw Fabian compete in endurance racing, the French Franc still existed and Mathieu, new to the team (yes, we haven’t introduced him to you yet, shame on us), was simply lining up for his first “special event”. What could possibly go wrong…?

In the same split as the JAUNE crew on the start #3, Louis did the show on track at the beginning of the race and managed to get the BMW to 6th place shortly before the end of the first double stint. It was then that a tiny modification of its usual trajectory, in order to save a little fuel, was going to send the new WRT member in ELMS in a definitive swerve. VERT car would no longer consume fuel on this split.

As of (very) many other crews, our three Swiss were thus going to meet on the last start of the weekend. But just as Louis was about to take the start once again, an unexpected disconnection forced Fabian to replace him at the last minute. Known for his propensity to handle pressure with difficulty, it will take all the efforts of Mathieu to encourage and relax him. Mission accomplished… Until the 18th lap.

With seven laps down and a weakened car, the rest of the adventure will above all be a real fun time with a number of artistic figures that decency forbids us to describe here. Mathieu will try, whatever the cost, to reach the finish line to mark the occasion even after his teammates had enough of this race, but karma was definitely not with the trio on this event and a fatal crash of the Genevian’s simulation will prevent him from reaching the server back. Tough…

See you in Sebring

New crews, drivers who discover or rediscover endurance, great battles, unexpected events on and off the track, a total of three starts, these 12H of Bathurst 2021 on iRacing will have been eventfull for the whole VEC-Simracing. If it seems that the next 12H of Sebring, at the end of March, will also present the possibility of taking part in four starts, let us hope nevertheless that the less accident-prone nature of the track can avoid amputating in a too flagrant way the different splits. In any case, it will undoubtedly be an opportunity to take up new challenges.

A.G