Mount Panorama has always been one of my favourite circuits – it looks really impressive, with two long straights up and down the mountain and then the fast and technical section at the top. There’s almost no error for margin and when it bites, it bites hard. An 80 minute endurance race was always going to be a big ask, even if it was in the daylight and after the ESR race at the same track.
After cleaning my pedals following the ESR race I was feeling pretty good about the race and my chances of having another good race like I’d had at Zolder. I was even able to do a 50 minute run the day before the race with only a small amount of damage and no out of sequence pit stops.
I qualified 13th out of 17 with a time of 2:06.657 which wasn’t that bad and if I’m honest I’d rather start at the back or the front than smack in the middle which is where my best time of 2:05.4 would have put me. A change for this race was a full warmup lap which gave a good opportunity to warm up both tires and brakes before the race actually started.
At the start I was able to get past ckr_skivit76 at Hell Corner but he got the better exit and retook the place doing up Mountain Straight. I stayed with him through the turns, too close it turned out as he touched the wall coming into the Esses and with the slight loss of momentum I hit his rear right corner and he went into the wall. I discounted it as a racing incident and ploughed on, accepting any penalty I got post race. If Id’ have stopped to wait for him I’d have just been smashed by the cars behind us. I made it up to P10 at Forrest Elbow when GT-DELE-B spun and finished the lap 0.7s behind F3kka2009.
F3kka2009 made similar mistake at the Esses and I made up another position and after Mervilde touched the wall at Forrests Elbow we were neck and neck in a drag race down Conrod straight. The AMG didn’t quite have the legs to beat him into The Chase and he came out ahead of me, both of us making up a position with MikeRJ45 in the gravel. I stayed with Mervilde on the following lap, keeping within 0.3s until he got a wheel on the grass at The Chase spun around, hit me and we both span off. I took light damage but was able to keep it of the barrier and rejoined in P10 after MikeRJ45 passed me on the inside at Murrays.
From there I started to chase down MrFreggel, eventually passing him when he made an error at Forrests Elbow, moving briefly up to P9 until JRC_Racing made the pass he’d been trying to do all lap at Murrays Corner. Trying to chase him down I got a wheel on the kerb at Quarry Bend, spinning the car and doing severe damage to the front. I carried on driving, heading to the pits but with the damage I span again at Skyline and with the car undriveable I teleported back to the pits for a 3 minute stop to have the damage repaired.
I rejoined in P17, last place with an hour to go. With the car repaired I was able to start banging in 2:07 laps until I overcooked it at the Esses and span. While I waited for the cars to pass so I could turn I was hit by Mervilde who did some light damage to the car. I got going again and went straight to the pits to repair the damage and complete the mandatory pitstop (54 seconds with repairs) with 49 minutes to go.
On cold tires I slid a little at the Cutting and hit the wall and then smashed the car again at the Esses and was instructed to return to the pits for repairs. This time I tried to drive there and did even more damage to the car, eventually arriving for a 5m stop. I rejoined back in last place with 37m remaining. At that point I could quite happily have quit. But I didn’t.
After another brush with the wall I damaged the suspension and had to stop for 1m and then again on the following lap for another 40s stop. With 10 minutes to go I was lapped by Mervilde in P11 and although I was quicker than him I couldn’t get past, not that it really mattered but running close to him was enough to get my SA back up to 73. With 3 minutes to go I had a final brush with the wall but ploughed on to bring the car home in P15, last of the runners.
The biggest and only lesson I learned from this race is that I need to either do something about my lack of concentration or quit racing. Losing concentration was to blame for all of the big accidents early on and then frustration at being last caused the later ones.
At the end of the race, my CC was 70/99, CN 75/99 and SA 73/99. Both my CC and CN took a hit this week although my SA is at an all time high. There’s a week break now before round 6 which takes place at Suzuka. Plenty of time to practice!