Friday the 5th saw the delayed round 4 of the MRC league arrive at Zolder for 2 30 minute sprints. Although the track was dry it was very cloudy and cold and after a tough day at work it was going to be 2hrs hard work with all the practice and qualifying sessions.
Having had plenty of time to practice around the track I was sure I could qualify better than last, maybe even in the top 10 and then get a good result by staying clean and not running off track. In practice I was able to lap consistently in the 1:32s and got a best lap of 131.9 in practice. I had my tire pressures sorted out well in advance as well as my fuel levels. I’d done a couple of practice races on the server and was feeling good.
I started the race 11th out of 15 between thereal_BIGBeN and Mervilde. In the melee at the first corner I hit the Ferrari of thereal_BIGBeN in the rear but didn’t do any damage but the loss of speed was enough to allow Mervilde to pull up along the inside of Lucien Bianchibocht. I got the better exit and was able to pull away down the straight also passing JRC_Racing. I made a hash of the Kleine Chicane but held my position and was then passed by JRC_Racing at the Villeneuve chicane. I finished the first lap in P9 while ckr_skivit76 completed his drive through penalty from the previous round.
At the Kleine chicane on lap 2 I was passed by kamzarzecki as both he and JRC_Racing cut the kerbs. On the run down to Jochen Rindtbocht I picked up 2 places as I passed thereal_BIGBeN and Pior00n1985 after both were off track and completed lap 2 in P8, 0.4s behind kamzarzecki, JRC_Racing and blacky306mi who were fighting over the next 3 positions. I stayed close to them throughout the lap, narrowly missing hitting kamzarzecki at Jochen Rindtbocht. He passed JRC_Racing on the following lap although I stayed close to all 3 of them. On lap 4, exiting the Villeneuve chicane, kamzarzecki lost control on the grass… making contact with JRC_Racing who span right into my path. I couldn’t avoid him and hit the wall doing severe damage to the car. I returned to the pits for a 3.5 minute repair.
I rejoined in P14 with 18 minutes to go, and set about chasing MRC_Dan_Gleeball who was 30s in front. Starting lap 7, I had the gap to P13 down to 26s and 1.5s behind kitkartman who was in P7. I was able to stay with is pace and eventually finished 1.8s behind him although several laps down after my long pit stop. Kamarzecki and JRC_Racing finished about 18s in front of me… such a shame I’d been involved in the accident as I could have finished so much higher up.
I started the second race in P11 too…. I’d done a much better lap in the second qualifying session and then made a hash of Jacky Ickxbocht. The 1.6s I lost would have been enough to put me 5th on grid. As it was, the 1:131.386 for P11 was still a personal best. On cold tires, I missed the braking point for the Kleine Chicane and the ran on to the grass, dropping down to 14th and last by the time I arrived at the Villeneuve Chicane and crossing the line 1.1s behind blacky306mi.
I moved up to P13 on lap 2 when Crashton_maldona lost control at the Villeneuve Chicane and I was right behind Mervilde, separated by 0.2s at the end of the lap. We both picked up a position when blacky306mi lost control exiting Lucien Bianchibocht. We continued to make up positions while others had issues but always staying within a second of each other. I’d get close but not be able to find a way past and then drop back in what seemed like a constant cycle. The pair of us were catching kitkartman who was nursing some damage and I was sure I could pass them both if I had enough time.
On lap 16, at Earste I was able to make the pass having got a good enough run down the start straight. I took the inside line, was able to hold it and started to chase kitkartman who was 2.3s in front with 6 minutes left. I had the gap down to 1.7s by the end of the lap but couldn’t find a way past, finishing 0.4s behind him in P8. A result I was much happier with.
In two races with lots of drivers having off track excursions I really learned the benefit of staying on track.
In the first race, once repaired, my pace was as quick as the other drivers around me and I was only denied a chance to finish in the top 10 by the accident early on. In the second race I’d driven well, kept my head while others left the track and had closely followed 2 cars for pretty much 30 minutes without any contact. In the 2nd race, my SA went up 3 points, finishing on 71.
At the end of the 2nd race my SA had gone up to 71/99 (up 10pts from round 3), CC was 79/99 (up 19pts from round 3) and CN was 87/99 (up 4pts form round 4). 19 laps without any issues had done a lot for my consistency score although it wouldn’t take make practice laps for next weeks round at Mount Panorama for it to drop again!