Some hail it as the “Home of American motorsport”. Others claim it is the “Best race on the endurance calendar”….yet it is also said that “Its an oval, with a bit of squiggly stuff in the middle to break up the monotony” either way there is usually an “ITS ALWAYS THE DP!” added on the end. However, say what you like about Daytona, it is a sure thing that the annual 24hr race on iRacing is a pretty big deal – this years race had 26 splits, each containing 55 teams. That’s approximately 5720 drivers that took part, in total turning over a million laps over the 24hr period. Surely no other racing sim can come anywhere near those figures?
Clearly for an event of such scale and the fact that it is the first iRacing Special Event of the 2020 calendar, TBR would have to enter a car – and so it was that 4 intrepid Birdies set out with their (last minute choice) Ford GT GTE and threw (flew??) themselves in to the fray. The team consisting of young Dutch protagonist Erwan Woudstra, Michael “I prefer ACC” Loosen, old hand and super-calm Board member Joris Thielen and our resident League Superstar – Estonian Eero Nomm set out on Saturday afternoon with the thousands of other pretend race-car drivers on an epic journey that would (hopefully) cover the next 24hrs or so.
Erwan was given the qualifying duties and promptly went and set the 17th fastest time of the session – out of 17 – good enough for 17th on the GTE grid. To be fair, with less than a second covering the entire GTE field in this, the 2nd split of 26, it was always going to be tough for the young Dutchie – and with 24hrs to go, the team that could be quick but also stay clean and incident free would come out near the front.
On to the start and Erwan would take the seat for the first 3 stints – avoiding an early crash would unfortunately break the tow from the front pack, coupled with a couple of self-enforced spins, Erwan would hand the car to Eero from around 12th position – highly creditable considering the first couple of hours are always the most hectic.
With half an eye on the incident points tally (iRacing’s new penalty system triggers at 100 x’s) Eero settled in to the Ford, a car that he had bought just the previous day, and set about catching the guys ahead. An incident with an AMG GT3 that seemed to be as wide as an oil tanker created cause for concern, however Eero kept the car clean and handed back to Erwan from P9. Erwan’s second double stint of the event passed with little to talk about, save getting sent in to a spin by a crazed DP whilst hard on the tail of P8 and losing 10 seconds before handing the car to Michael from P9.
So now we are 8hrs in to the race, third distance – TBR currently running 9th with Michael chasing 8th hard. 7th is already a lap up and seemingly out of distance to be caught, but there is still an awful long way to go. Over the next hours the guys would drive consistently fast – battling hard with the cars around them whilst trying to maintain a grip on the incident points and navigate the GT3 and DP field. Unfortunately, damage from a spin sometime in the dark hours was having a negative effect on top speed – something which is so important on such a high speed track as Daytona. With Joris and Eero sharing the night-shift duties, the laps ticked by largely without incident. Pit strategy would come in to play, with the guys attempting to save as much time as possible vs their rivals by triple and even quintuple stinting the tyres on the Ford GTE.
So by the end, Erwan would bring the TBR Pink car home to a highly creditable 8th position, a gain of 9 positions over the course of 24hrs and having turned 193 laps and picking up 38 of the teams final total of 90x’s. Michael drove 153 laps with 36 inc’s and massive Kudos to Eero and Joris, both running in excess of 200 laps (254 for Eero and 226 for Joris) and both with less than 10 incident points, all 4 drivers lapped within 3 tenths of a second of each other – so not a bad match at all.
On a personal note, Im super pleased with the running of the guys in the 2020 D24. Whilst TBR may not be the high-flying team it once was – the drivers that remain are a great bunch of guys and enjoy racing and having fun as a team – and it seems we still have the ability to mix in the upper echelons of the high split races.
On to the Bathurst 12hr in February and the 12hrs of Sebring in March, where hopefully we can repeat – or even better – the same performance as this weekend.
Results are here
Credit to Erwan Woudstra for the screen-shots. (at least you did something right….. Kappa )