The NEO Endurance series is regarded as one of the highest profile “unofficial” series in the iRacing service. Only the best teams get to drive and are either invited directly (based on results from previous seasons) or by qualifying through the 2 stage Pre-qualifying events. Stage 1 is a sprint around Silverstone in which teams attempt to get the fastest 5 lap result. 2 weeks later, having pared the 71 entries down to 55 cars from the P1, P2 and GTE classes there is a 2hr Silverstone race under full NEO race conditions.
The NEO organisers will then go through the results and invite the remaining 40 teams in to the full season. While the podiums of each class (top 4 from GTE) get a direct invite (assuming they raced clean) the remaining 30 places are judged on not only on the results, but also at the average pace, qualifying pace, the average of the 10 fastest lap times, incidents, and performance in pre-qualifying 1. The NEO write up what turned out to be a highly entertaining event can be found here.
With a fine 10th place in class in the PQ2 race, Team Buschfink Racing impressed the NEO team enough to gain a spot in the full endurance series…and subsequently, a month later a multi national TBR team came together (virtually) for Round 1 of the 2018 NEO Endurance Series. The 6hrs of Sebring.
Fraser Williamson would qualify, posting a time of 1:57.444, good enough for 19th of the 22 entries on the tightly packed GTE grid, all covered by less than a second. Come 3pm on Sunday 24th October and Fraser would take the TBR Pink Porsche RSR out for the first lap of what would, in all honesty, be a fairly quiet race for the guys. A slow down early on, traffic seeming to catch the Porsche in all the wrong places and a couple of less-than-perfect pitstops meant the guys never really got in to a full head of steam.
The fuel strategy was pretty simple, 1 hour stints (30 laps) with the boys changing drivers for each stint. Fraser handed over to fellow Scotsman Barry Morrison for the second hour, with the final hour of the first half of the race being completed by Joris Thielen from Belgium. This order was then repeated for the second half of the race.
At the end of the 6hrs the team can be justified in feeling like they were unlucky with the result. Finishing in 16th just outside the points, but only 3 seconds off of 14th and with a total of just 16th incidents the guys raced clean and fast and can be bouyed by the fact that a points finish was almost in their grasp.
On to the next round in mid November and 6hrs of COTA…