ESR ACC League Round 4/8 – Spa

The Silverstone race hadn’t gone particularly well for me but with two MRC events at Spa and a lot of practice put in I was confident I could get a better result in this time.

Prep

After the MRC races I already had good knowledge of the track and I set about improving my pace and consistency. Before the race I had a best lap of 2:23.343 and was confident that I could go quicker. To test the server settings I ran a whole race distance on the Sunday afternoon… which I managed without damaging the car or crashing. I also got the opportunity to test my fuel calculations which worked well. Going into the race I was feeling pretty good.

Track map notes I made in the weeks leading up to the races at Spa

Race

I qualified in P7 of 10 for the race – a little disappointing as even with low fuel I wasn’t able to do a clean and fast lap. I knew I’d gone quick enough to start in P5 but never mind… it’s the race that counts. At the start I made a clean start but got boxed in behind Bazoks who was slow out of Raidillon, allowing JWE-Banff2020 to pull away from us. I was minding my own business on arrival at Les Combes when diddy2112 tagged my rear and I span off track. Luckily, the car wasn’t damaged and I was able to rejoin in P10, about 6s behind him in P9. In my frustration and on cold tires with low pressures I got a wheel on the kerb at Pouhon and span again. Again, no damage but I was now 15s behind P9.

I was elevated to P9 when ScottFenton15 served a drive through, probably for a start line infringement. I pushed on and set a time of 2:23.070 – my best ever lap around Spa and with high fuel levels too! The gap to diddy2112 was down to 9s and the following lap it was down to 4s and I could see him as we crossed the line. I passed him at Les Fagnes and set about catching DAN_BAILEY1982 who was 9s up the road. I caught him on the run down to Pouhon after he’d made a mistake and was now 11s behind F3kka2009 and 20s behind Basoks. I made up a position when bigyin86 had to pit for repairs and presumably made his only stop of the race at the same time. I was now up to P5.

On the exit of Malmedy I caught and passed F3kka2009 after he made an error. I was still 20s behind Basoks with JWE-Banff2020 a further second in front of him. There were 33 minutes left. At about this time I became aware that I was lapping quickly and consistently and was burning through fuel a little quicker than I expected. On lap 8, I made an unforced error at Les Combes, asking to much of my tires and span around. No damage (again) and I was bale to continue but I lose about 3s to Basoks in front. On lap 11, I was caught by ScottFenton15 and I tried to make it easy for him to pass exiting Blanchimont. Immediately afterwards, I pitted – with only 0.8l in the tank when I stopped in the pit box. I took on another 49l – slightly more than I’d originally planned and changed my tires – the whole stop took 33s. I rejoined in P7, still 20s behind JWE-Banff2020 and Basoks at the end of the following lap and with 19 minutes remaining.

Crossing the line at the end of a lonely but rewarding race

I moved up to 6th on the following lap when F3kka2009 completed his mandatory pit stop. I continued lapping quickly, putting in low 2:23s and even a couple of 2:22s (but with track limits warnings). After his early stop, I caught bigyin86 at the start of lap 17 and passed him to take P5 with 7 minutes remaining. JWE-Banff2020 and Basoks were still 15s in front of me. While I was catching them at about a second a lap I wasn’t going to have enough laps to do it in.

I finished in P5, about 12s behind the pair of them. If I’d not had that first lap clash with diddy2112 I’m sure I’d have had a good fight with them.

Lessons Learned

Life is full of ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ and the big takeaway from the race was that I’d driven 2 race distances (3 counting the last MRC sprint) without damaging the car which was doing a lot for my confidence. I’d put in the practice and it had paid off.

I was pleased to finish with only 7l of fuel left in the tank too. I’d put in an extra 5 at my stop after panicking a little bit and there was no need. I’d done the maths. I need to trust myself. Having said that, it was better to carry the extra fuel than have to make a stop which would have cost me about 90 seconds.

At the end of the race, my scores had changed to SA 61/99, CC 60/90 and CN 83/99. My CN had gone up considerably in the first race distance earlier that afternoon and then reduced by 1pt during the race. An SA of 61 is a new record for me…. only 9 more and I can access the competition servers.

Watch the full race from my point of view on the website

On to next week where I plan to take the fight to Basoks and JWE-Banff2020 at Zolder.