So the first weekend of 2019 is a pretty busy one for Team Buschfink Racing. We have 2 cars running the iRacing Pro Qualifying series (which run Saturdays and Sundays) The Sports Car Open 4hrs of COTA on Sunday and (as if everyone hasn’t had enough of Monza already this week) 6hrs of Monza in DGFX.
For this round, the Swedish Super Duo of Andreas “Baldy” Olsson and Magnus “Mumbles” Vallström were joined by the iRacing self-crack King, Mr Philip “Old and slow” Bedford (me….). Andreas was taking on Qualifying duties and therefore the first 2hrs. Magnus was set to finish the race, thus making me the filling in a delicious Swede sandwich. Qualifying actually went pretty well for young Andreas – P7 in the GTE Pro field with a time of 1.44.515 – although almost half a second behind the pole sitters of Team Vikings – Ragnarok in 1.44.062 with just a second covering the whole 20 car GTE Pro field.
The start of any Monza race is usually a bit of a gamble – the ultra fast start/finish straight followed by hard braking from top gear right down to 1st for the super tight chicane at T1 is notoriously crash-worthy. Add to this the fact that this race was starting at an in-sim race time of 6am (i.e. PITCH DARK) and the potential for massive pile-ups and broken dreams is high, really high. Thankfully, Andreas has a wise old head on his young shoulders and managed to stay alive long enough to actually gain a spot putting him in 5th spot however a small self spin dropped Mr Olsson back to 8th as the first pit cycle started. Coming out in 8th after his pit, the TBR Green entry was back up to 5th after some excellent driving from the tall Swede. Maintaining this position up to lap 65 when the 2nd pit cycle started, and in fact finding himself in the lead of the GTE race by the time he actually pitted and handed the car over to me on lap 69. Emerging from the pits in 9th, I have to admit I was super nervous – but quickly settled in and by the time everyone had pitted we found ourselves in 6th spot. This was largely due to the slightly messed up strategies now in play – a Full Course Yellow had brought the Safety Car out and a few cars pitted early, placing them out of sync with the leaders.
A second FCY occurred around lap 75, with wave-by’s etc we were able to maintain 6th spot until a momentary lapse of concentration on my part had me grab at the brakes while in the pace-line – a P2 car following me was accelerating at the time to close a gap and unfortunately slammed me in the rear (plz….) causing damage, the extent of which we were unaware at the time. A lap or so later, Green dropped and the damage to our car was evident – we had lost a significant amount of top-end speed and were going to be sitting ducks on the straights of the high speed Monza circuit. Team Vikings – Ragnarok were following us and were aware that any delay in passing us would hinder their chances of catching the 5 lead cars. Coming out of Parabolica to start lap 81 they had a run and swung out to pass, just as an LMP1 decided to boost from several cars back spinning the Vikings car in to our rear quarter and sending me in to a massively surprised 7 spin barrel roll down the straight. The damage was – as you can imagine – significant. 35 minutes of required repairs caused us to park the car and leave the race.
There’s a wee video clip here
So a really sorry end to a really great start. As is becoming a bit of a trend with TBR cars, its another story of what-if. What if Andreas had just driven a triple stint… What if I hadn’t been so foolish to be messing with engine maps in the pace line and we hadn’t been rear-ended causing damage. What if we had pitted to take the optional repairs instead of choosing to carry on, what if I had let the Vikings car past after the FCY… what if…. what if….
In the end, a hugely disappointing result only really buoyed by the fact that Andreas drove like a beast and that Magnus and I decided to do the Pro Q race, finishing 2nd in the *cough* 4th split :oD
Somehow, we still managed to pick up 5 points, so we now sit in 14th in the standings, within 10 points of a top 10 with 2 rounds remaining the next race being Road Atlanta 4hr on Feb 2nd
Official results are here
GSRC Coverage is here.