ESR ACC League Round 6/8 – Mount Panorama

Mount Panorama has always been one of my favourite tracks for Sim racing on. It’s tough and doesn’t take any prisoners but a good lap around the mountain feels awesome when you pull it off. After taking ownership of the ESR league I wanted to make the Mount Panorama round a bit different to the others. While we still did qualifying on the Saturday afternoon (in game) I moved the race start so that it would be dark and the sun would come up while we raced – just like the start of the real 12hr race.

Prep

Prep for the race was a strange one. Because of the delayed MRC race at Zolder I didn’t start practicing on the mountain until the Saturday morning where I was getting a best time 2:08.946. This didn’t compare well with the best time of 2:04 I had from Season 3 of ESR. Before the race I managed to get the time down to 2:07 was still struggling to find any more speed, even with the same setup that I’d used previously. I was completely flummoxed.

The Race

I qualified for the race towards the back with a poor 2:09 that didn’t reflect what I was capable of at all. I got out of the first corner cleanly and then sustained damage at the Cutting where I hit Bazoks doing damage to my own car and presumably his. I waited for him to get past me and the set off in pursuit.

As we crossed the line at the end of Lap 3 I was holing P9, 0.7s behind Bazoks and 7.7 behind diddy2112. Exiting the Cutting we caught DAN_BAILEY1982 who must have hit the wall as he’d been a few seconds in front of us coming up the hill. We were both able to pass on the run down to Forrests Elbow. Arriving at the Chase I missed my braking point and ran on to the grass, rejoining without taking any damage but allowing the gap to open up to 3.2s.

I stayed focussed and was able to take the position back at Skyline where Basoks was in the gravel when I arrived. I was not in P7 after the end of 6 laps and 15 minutes of racing. JWE-Banff2020 was 7.5s in front of me in P6. He must have been carrying some damage as within 3 laps I had the gap down to 1.6s. We came very close to contact at the Cutting and again at Murrays corner and ended the lap separated by 0.5s. He was driving well and although I was quicker I couldn’t find a way past. We were now halfway through the race so I decided to pit and create some space for myself.

Travelling in a straight line on the way to the pits with only a couple of minutes remaining

I took on a fresh pair of tires and fuel to the end but the damage I’d sustained right at the start added another 9s to my stop. I rejoined in 9th with a few cars ahead of me still to stop. After my out lap, I went up to P8 as diddy2112 pitted from in front of me. JEW-Banff2020 was 10.3s in front of me after his stop… that bit of damage had probably made a difference. I was still faster though and concentrated on getting the gap down, setting my fastest lap of the race – a 2:07.146. Flush with success I made an error at Murrays corner on the following lap and did severe damage to the front of the car. The steering was still functional but not straight and so with 14 minutes remaining I pitted from P7 for a stop of just over a minute to have the car repaired.

The extra stop cost me several positions and I rejoined in P9, with F3kka2009 in P10 16.2s behind me. I lost a bit of time to him while I concentrated on staying out of the way of Bigyin89 who was lapping me and made another mistake on cold tires at the Chase. Crossing the line, F3kka2009 was now only 2.3s behind. Determined not to finish last, I pushed on and opened out a gap to him only to make an error at the Dipper one lap later and hit the wall hard. While I reversed he shot past. With 3 minutes remaining, I tried to save the game highlights on the straight coming up to the Cutting, only for the game to error, causing me to crash while I closed the error screen. I was shown the black and orange flag and had to return to the pits where I finished the race, dead last.

Lessons Learned

In the first 2/3 of the race I was quite happy with my pace and it was only when I had to stop for the 2nd time that things started to unravel. The key there is not to watch the times as I put myself under pressure to keep setting faster times when I should have just gone at 95% and been consistent. After the race I edited the HUD to remove the lap times from the top left so I can’t watch them anymore.

I also learned not to fiddle with recording highlights mid-game. It doesn’t work – just record the lap instead.

Confused by my inability to match my previous times I shared my best lap in the Facebook chat and one of the other drivers pointed out that my throttle inputs were very strange – bouncing around on the straights. This was very strange as I had my foot to the floor at this point. Several of the drivers suggested I open up the pedals and given the pots a clean. I did this, removing a lot of dog hair and crud and after wiring them up again almost immediately banged in a pair of 2:05s. Problem solved. It’s probably been like that for months.

There are only 2 races to go now – the Nurgurgring and Imola and then we’ll take a break before Season 4. There are spaces for Season 4 available and you can have a say in the format by completing this questionnaire. You can sign up through the Eldar Sim Racing Facebook page. It would be great to have you!