Tuesday, 15 November 2016
The 2nd race in the GES series, and after a decent 9th place at Road America, 4X Racing was hungry for more top 10 finishes and points in the GES.
During the preparations for the Imola event, it was quickly clear that Jiri Mojak could not make it this race, and Jack Turner was unable to leave the country to fly to Italy (something about a no-fly list, I do not know the details) that left Marc Figueras and Andy Morgan, the teams managers to defend our honor and bring back the car in one piece. With Andy battling the disease of Old Age (Rheumatoid Arthritis to be exact - AM), and Marc renovating a house during the preparations and the race, this was bound to be a challenge in itself.
During the hosted practice sessions, it was clear we would not be the fastest car on track, and instead we opted for a safe and stable setup that would take us to the end without much incidents.
Andy managed to almost not qualify last, when in his last lap, in Acque Minerali the car started pointing slightly off as you can see and he lost it. So last place it is! The only way is up from here, so no worrys, we expected to drive a steady pace and keep up with the back end of the field.
By good timing and awareness, Andy managed to get 1 spot right at the start from WR Racing GoT and soon there was a major incident involving over 5 GT3 cars in T1, So instead of 14th we managed to slide up some spots into 9th! Knowing that there where some faster cars behind us, we quickly set our goals to finish in the top10 again.
As always, the gentleman driver, Andy Morgan gives as much room as possible for the faster classes, just look at the spacing and awareness, as he completely go’s outside track limits, to let the leaders of the Prototype class by the first time they arrived. Even sacrificing a position in the process. Marc gently reminded him that its actually OK to keep the car on the track when racing. (Errrm... I actually missed my braking point because I was looking in my mirror - AM)
Truthfully though, this was Andy’s biggest mistake, and after this he drove an excellent 1-hour stint, keeping Martin Green from WR Racing behind him almost till the end, when his sickness of old age kicked in and slowed down the last 5 laps and he had to let Martin Green go a bit.
Marc took over the wheel, for a 2 stint run to the finish. After putting in 10 hour days in home renovations for 2 weeks and while shaking due to lack of sleep, he took over the wheel from Andy, who had handed over the car from a cool 10th position and completed 33 laps without problem.
Looking out for WR racing, who managed to do 3 extra laps on the 1st stint, we met up, and re-passed them in lap 38 as they came out of the pits, we had a real race on our hands it looked like. Unfortunately for WR racing, they had 1 bad out lap, followed by another pit stop. Perhaps their pit crew forgot the tires? Or put on old ones? We can only gues, but this was the last we saw of them.
Andy left to tend to other things, (FETCHING HER INDOORS TO BE EXACT - AM) leaving Marc without a spotter thanks to the spotter bug in iRacing… (seriously, that is annoying as hell).
Graphite Racing had to serve a stop and go, and exited the pits right as we blew by, giving us another spot and we were into 8th now! A personal best in GES history! Pumped and excited about this, Marc continued putting down solid lap times and expanding the lead we had on Graphite while closing in on NAB racing #209 in 7th 40 seconds up the road!
Marc had closed the gap to NAB Racing #209 down to 16 seconds when exiting the pits, and was determined to get 7th position with an hour left in the race. 11 laps later, in lap 80, Marc was behind Alwin Kloosterman, ready to make a move. And THEN!
Alwin was forced into a mistake in Tosa, Marc narrowly escaped a crash and took the position.
Alwin lost 30 seconds trying to get the car pointed in the correct direction again, and with that lead, Marc was SURE we had 7th place locked down. To increase the lead marc kept pushing out constant lap times, with the team’s fastest lap being at lap 87.
With 20 minutes to go, it looked like nothing could go wrong, a strong lead, a driver that had time to slow down a bit and relax, and just make it to the finish without screwing up would guaranty 7th place.
With 15 minutes to go though, Marc met as we say in the Netherlands “de man met de hamer”. Fatigue set in, and it set in bigtime. Unable to focus, Marc started making stupid istakes on almost every lap
A big moment at Variante Alta in lap 95 ended with the car pointing towards the wall!
But Marc held it. With the lead the team had assured, a 10 second loss was manageable. Still 20 seconds ahead of the next car so no problem.
2 laps later at Piratella…
Another mistake, this time with a crash into the wall, and over 30 seconds lost Marc was unable to maintain 7th position… Instead, the goal had shifted to limping the car home without losing 8th.
After 101 laps of racing, that is what he managed to do.
8th position, a GES best for the team, but still felt like a disappointment because of the last couple of laps.
We will be ready and roaring for 7th at Motegi. We hope to see you all there again and have another eventful race!