2pm Saturday 19th January 2019 was the day that 1100 teams signed up for the historical 2019 running of the Daytona 24hr Endurance race – the first Official Endurance Event to be run by iRacing since the introduction of the “Day to Night” transition.
Based on the iRacing IMSA series so utilising the Corvette C7 Daytona Prototype, the Porsche RSR GTE, Ford 2017 GTE and Ferrari 488 GTE as well as the Mercedes AMG GT3 and Audi R8 GT3 and with teams comprising a minimum of 2 and a maximum 16 drivers, but most teams utilising between 3 and 6 drivers.
TBR had 4 teams representing the Bird in the D24 for this years race:
Due to the sheer amount of teams registered, the event was sectioned off in to 20 splits, each with 55 cars. The upper splits (organised by irating) would contain a mix of all three classes, then the lower down you went, the fewer classes there would be – in fact from 15 down was all GTE’s.
Its difficult for me to write about 4 separate 24hr races, so without taking anything away from the sterling efforts all the guys put in, I’ll just give the facts as I can see them.
TBR GT3 was – I think its fair to say – our A team, and as such made the top split which was to be broadcast on the iRacing Esports Network on YouTube. Lewis was tasked with qualifying duties and set a time of 1.42.418, good enough for 8th in class and just 2 tenths behind the GT3 pole sitters, ASTRO Gaming Altus Esports. The strategy was a simple one – stay alive, stay clean. Manage traffic and fuel and see where 24hrs would have us end up. As it happened, the guys did a phenomenal job. Lewis, Fraser and Scott had duty for Saturday, with Lewis and Dan taking on the bulk of the night hours, before Tim and Fraser took over on Sunday morning. By the end of the race they had turned 816 laps, climbed 5 places, picked up 105 incident points, set a fastest lap (by Tim on lap 567) of 1.42.285 and finished in third spot. Cracking result boys – really well done.
TBR Yellow made the 3rd split. Resident mad Fin Teemu Toikka qualified the DP in 3rd spot with a 1.37.150 – just 5 hundredths of a second behind pole sitting team Tempest Motorsports. Going with a similar strategy to the GT3 guys, the difference being that because they were in the fastest car class, they would have to be super careful when passing slower moving GT cars. From the start, Teemu would slot in to 2nd place and begin a 12hr battle for the top 3 or 4 places with the cars around him. Teemu, James and Michael saw the lead swapping around between 4 cars for the first 12 hours or so. Unfortunately, having moved the car in to a solid second position, lap 429 had a sub-par David (recovering from illness and still not feeling 100%) getting tangled up with the inside wall at T2, resulting in 9 minutes of required repairs. Dropping the car back to 10th in the process but with the car picking up more pace as the race went on, the guys managed to salvage 8th place by the end of the 24hr event. To say the guys were disappointed is un understatement, but again, more proof if any were needed, that TBR have great potential in Endurance races if we just had a little luck to go with it!
TBR Red were handed the 5th split and Cristian was up at the crack of dawn (his time) to set a blistering 1.41.420 in the 488 GTE, fast enough for P2 in the GTE field and just a gnats cock behind the pole sitters time of 1.41.309. It was a tightly packed field in the most popular class of the day, with just half a second covering the entire GTE field – so survival would be key. Starting well and in fact briefly taking the lead, it would quickly unravel for Cristian – losing the car in the bus stop chicane on lap 7 the car would end up with aero damage meaning that it was unable to keep up with the other cars in the field. Soldiering on and actually picking up spots in the process before handing the car to Dan on lap 72. Dan continued in the same vein before the team chose to park the car on lap 136. A sad end to a very promising start, but again, a demonstration of the capabilities of the drivers within this glorious team!
Finally, TBR Green – the second GT3 car in TBR was placed in the same split as the GTE boys and with Andreas Olsson taking on qualifying. Sticking the car firmly in the lower 1/3rd of the field with a time of 1.43.783 – over a second behind the pole sitters Kerb Clippers with a 1.42.688 – Andreas had some serious work to do to make the gains he was capable of. With an amazing start, the tall Swede found himself quickly climbing up through the field – handing the car from P3 to Ben Warren on Lap 68. Continuing the roll, Ben maintained position for his first stint before a hardware failure caused him to have to pit just 2 laps after his scheduled pitstop. Unable to make a quick repair, he was forced to hand the car back to Andreas. With the loss of Ben, Mike stepped up to the plate to partner Andreas until the dark hours when Ben Wilkinson and Joris Thielen took over. Morning duty was covered by Andreas again before Joris, rested from his 25 minute sleep, took the last couple of hours and the flag in a sterling 5th position.
So all in all, not a bad 24hrs of racing for Team Buschfink. 3rd in top split GT3 was an epic result for the boys, who coupled with NEO/SCO and ProQ duties have had a really busy few weeks of racing. A massive shame for the DP guys and whilst 8th is a decent result, they were capable of so much more, similarly for the Red team who clearly had the pace to be fighting for a potential win. As for Green, well someone had to have a mechanical issue right? Still 5th is admirable and a result we can build on for the next big event – the Bathurst 12hr.
Congrats to all the class winners across all 20 races – to every team that took part in this epic event – to iRacing for providing the best sim currently on the market and finally, thanks to our Team Boss, Rickard Allardh for letting us all hang out and pretend to race cars together!
Official results are here
Racespot coverage on the Iracing Esports YT is here.