After delaying the Catalunya round by a week, we’d run out of time to run the 5th round at Suzuka so this would be the championship final round. 14 drivers lined up for qualifying and would start a race that I had high hopes for.
Prep & Qualifying
I’d done quite a lot of practice at Monza, working hard especially on the 3 chicanes – braking at the right point and having the car stable enough to apply power quickly. The exit of Ascari was still a weak point for me, as were the 2 Lesmos where I wasn’t confident at all.
I’d done quite a lot of work on setup and solved my fuel issues from last week to be confident that I had enough for the 50 minutes and 1 extra lap at the most. In qualifying I got a 1:52 in early which was good enough for P9. I was knew I could lap in the mid 1:51s so I could was sure I could record a quicker and line up in the top 5 or 6. While trying to do this I kept getting laps invalidated due to using to much kerb and was still 9th when the server reset forcing everyone out. This happened again after we’d started the race after a short qualifying. We made a decision to try again with a short 5m qualifying and shortened 40 minute race. This final time I staying in the pits and decided to line up at the back where I could avoid any mayhem at the first corner.
Everyone made it through the first chicane, managed to overtake Hoppers_wwfc89 on the run down to the first chicane. Chasing LovesFrequency and R80-Reilly on the run to the 2nd chicane. We all made up a place when car206898 ran wide between the 2 Lesmos. I was only 0.4s behind LovesFrequency arriving at Parabolica but on cold tires I misjudged the braking point and ran wide, allowing him to double the gap by the time we arrived at the chicane for lap 2. I got good traction out of the chicane and we were very close at the second chicane. While trying to not give anything away, he hit the kerb which caused him to bounce off track and I got past. My chase for diddy2112 didn’t last long as I oversteered off at the 1st Lesmo and dropped all the way back down to 12th.
I set about chasing down Hoppers_wwfc89 again – the gap at 3.0s as we started lap 3. After exiting the 2nd chicane I had the gap down to 0.5s and passed him under braking at Ascari. When terence-322 span exiting Parabolica I was up to 10th, 8.2s behind LovesFrequency. He was fighting with diddy2112 and I took about a second out of them over the lap and had it down to 4s at the 1st chicane after they had a bit of contact. With the 50m board destroyed at the 2nd Lesmo, I misjudged my braking point and ran wide onto the gravel which allowed the gap to open up a bit. By the time we’d got to the 1st chicane on lap 7 I was right with them and the three of us were separated by only 0.8s.
All 3 of us passed R80-Reilly after he’d run off track and LovesFrequency and I went into Ascari together. He ran out on to the gravel while braking which allowed me to come through and start chasing diddy2112. I was sure I was quicker and planned to make a move on the inside at Parabolica. He didn’t go as wide as he had done on previous laps so I wasn’t able to get through – but I could make use of the slipstream down the straight. As we braked for the chicane there was a bit of contact between my rear and his front but we both made it through unscathed and I was up to 7th, immediately starting to open up a gap which I had up to 2s by the end of the lap.
With 25 minutes remaining other drivers started to pit and I was pushing hard to catch JWE-Banff2020 when I made a mistake exiting Ascari and hit the barrier, doing some light damage to the car and losing the 4th place I’d made through pit stops to R80-Reilly. With half the race remaining I opted to take my mandatory pit stop which thanks to the damage I’d taken would take 54 seconds to complete. With the race being shortened by 10 minutes I reduced my fuel intake but about 5 laps worth. While the crew working on the car I dropped further and further behind, rejoining after what seemed like an eternity in P10.
Back on track I took a while to settle down and missed the 2nd chicane and nearly lost control at both Lesmos and Parabolica. I gave myself a good talking to went on to set my best lap of the race – a 1.51.837 and now only 6.1s behind GTRacer84PL in 9th with 15 minutes to go. I then had a big spin at the 1st Lesmo, luckily not damaging the car which cost me about 6s. With the leader, P1-Dylan-20 bearing down on me I resumed by push, setting a new PB of 1:51.492 but with Dylan still having closed the gap by 2 seconds on that lap. Being conscious of where he was, as soon as he was close enough I moved over before the 1st Lesmo to let him through so I could try to follow him. His Bently was soon long gone and while trying to follow him I oversteered out of control at Ascari, in the same place as I had done before, making a similar error at Parabolica and dropping to P11.
Thankfully I’d not taken any damage and with 8 minutes to go was fighting R80-Reilly, just like we had done in round 1 at Kyalami. A mistake at the 2nd chicane allowed him to close with 2s of me. Feeling the pressure I made a similar mistake on the following lap and now he was only 0.3s behind me and looming large in my rear-view mirror. I kept hi behind me through the Lesmos and Ascari. He got a run on me exiting Parabolica and after using the slip stream pulled out. The Bently mustn’t have had the grunt to get past because the AMG started to pull away and he pulled back in behind me. I expected him to make a lunge at the chicane but he didn’t and I eked out the gap to about 0.5s. He was quicker than me exiting Ascari and after closing the gap made a banzai move on the inside at Parabolica. I wasn’t expecting him at all and he shot passed me and then wide, off the track.
With 4 minutes left I had a little over 1.6s as a cushion until something happened to him at the 2nd Lesmo and the gap blew out to 20s. With 1:30 left on the clock I was in p11, 16.6s behind diddy2112 in 9th who I’d been fighting back at the start. Starting the final lap I had the gap down to 12s and had it down to 8.6 at the flag. I’m sure if we’d done the full 50 minutes I’d have been able to catch him. We’ll never know.
The biggest issue I had in this race was the 5 accidents – 2 at the 1st Lesmo, 2 at Ascari and 1 at Parabolica. All were caused by carrying to much speed through the corner and applying power at the wrong time causing the back to step out. Ultimately, this was caused by a lack of concentration and is something I need to work on.
Speed wise, I was quick enough to finish much better but making mistakes drops me down.
My Car Control score improved by 8pts in the race, from 66 to 74 while after dropping a little my Consistency rating returned to the 77 it had been at the start of the race. I also added 2pts to my Safety score at 42. All good stuff and showing improvement.
I’ve really enjoyed this short championship and am really looking forward to Season 3 in January. The racing is really clean and there’s a good spread of talent too.