NEO Endurance Series – Round 3 – Interlagos

For round 3 of the iRacing service’s premier endurance series, NEO was to take on 6 hours of the Autódromo José Carlos Pace and was set to be the first big event to take place using iRacings new real-time weather and time of day effects. So with the race beginning in the late afternoon heat it would progress through to the cooler temps, and lower light of the evening – a visual delight (McFraser had a wee stalk on all afternoon) as well as a new driving experience for all involved.

Qualifying duties for the TBR Pink Porsche RSR was to be undertaken by Lewis “fat chips” Goodway. Posting a 1.28.975 on lap 4, a time good enough for 16th in the super strong field of 21 GTE cars, the top 18 of which were separated by just 6 tenths of a second! Pole was scooped up by CoRe SimRacing with the Army Racing Team second and MSI eSports in third on the grid.

Lewis started the race for TBR and managing to gain 3 spots on lap 1, things were looking pretty good for TBR – the level of competition in this series is of the highest order, so gains are never easy to come by. With a 12 second differential between the P1’s and the GTE cars and the added difficulty of the P2 class – coupled with a very short lap time, it wouldn’t be long before the leaders were lapping the back of the GTE field – in fact it took 6 laps. Just 6 laps of free racing before the next 5hrs and 50 odd minutes became a game of traffic management and trying not to get killed by faster class machines. Unfortunately, come lap 15 and there was an almighty coming together between cars from all 3 classes, just on the exit of the pit lane which pretty much blocked the whole track. Lewis was hard on the brakes approaching the incident and spotted a gap, sadly to have it close by a reversing Chimera P1 and cause the RSR to spin (which Josh Chin later apologised for). For some comedic reason, Lewis then took what felt like 30 minutes to do a 17 point turn and get the car pointing back in the right direction, placing the TBR Pink car in 2nd to last spot overall. The only saving grace was that the car had minimal damage and as people started to pit, Lewis was once again climbing through the field.

Lewis pitted on lap 40 from P14 to Fraser Williamson who set about “hot lapping” his way through the traffic for the next hour or so. Gaining a spot from Logitech G Altus eSports after they had a crash, Fraser lapped incredibly consistently (unusual for the young man) before handing the car across to new boy, Andreas “Blackbeard” Dahlstrom on lap 80. This was Andreas’s first really “big” race and  its fair to say that it was a baptism by fire! To Andreas’s credit, he managed the traffic well and was lapping consistently within a tenth or so of Fraser and Lewis and maintained 14th position, pitting on lap 116 for Lewis to take his second hour long stint.

The rest of the race followed a very similar format – hot lap through the traffic, keep the car safe and wait for other teams to (hopefully) fall off the track. 40 laps later, Andreas was back in the car – still in 14th spot and running consistent times depending on traffic before finally handing the car to Fraser for the last hour of the race. With 10 laps to go, had an issue and needed a tow, elevating Fraser to 13th and then again, with just 5 laps to go, Zenith eSport went off track and Fraser was able to nab 12th spot for the finish.

All round, a pretty good performance for the guys, especially considering Fraser hates the RSR with a passion and it was Andreas’s first drive in a top tier event. Having started so un-luckily and dropping all the way down the field, to finishing just outside the top 10 can be seen as a decent result.

Round 4 in the New Year takes the team for 6 hours round the glorious twisting turns of Suzuka in Japan. By that point in the season, the GT Pro Qualifiers will be well underway so it may not be the same drivers in the car – but whoever it is, I’m sure they will fly the TBR flag high and proud.

Results are here.

iRacint Esport Network coverage of the event is here.

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