For some reason, Imola isn’t a circuit I do well at (even by my standards!) and no matter how much I enjoy driving it I always seem to get caught in other peoples accidents, hit or make a silly mistake and it’s all over. After a couple of practice races during the week against both the AI and some real opponents I knew I had some consistency and if I could hold it together I’d be able to finish in the top 10.
I qualified in 12th out of 15 drivers, not a great start but I hoped it would help me avoid any first corner carnage. As it was, JRC_Racing and I had a small tap as I passed him on the right, trying to stay off the grass. The rest of my opening lap was uneventful and I started the 2nd lap 0.8s behind Mervilde and 1.1 in front of blacky306mi. Unfortunately, blacky306mi smashed in to my rear at Villeneuve and we both went into the gravel. He waiting for me to rejoin but the car had taken a lot of damage and the handling was suffering.
I soon pulled away from him and set about catching JRC_Racing whose lap times were slower than me by about 1s. I passed him at Acque Minerale on lap 4 when he ran off track and concentrated on catching R_Harrison_ who was 4s in front. On the next lap he lost control exiting Piratella and pirouetted across the track – to avoid ploughing in to him I had to run off the track and smacked the side of the car against the wall, somehow managing to avoid totalling it and rejoining on the other side of Acque Minerale. Mervilde was 9s in front of me but catching him would be hard work as the car was definitely suffering from a lack of grip after all that contact.
After struggling to slow the car down at Villeneuve and Rivazza I pulled into the pits at the end of lap 7 to repair the car. The stop took almost 15s and on rejoining I was immediately lapped by P1-Dylan-20 and MikeRJ95. Quite depressing. Still, 15 minutes left to try and recover something! I was in P13 with only blacky306mi behind me. Sadly, on lap 9, I was punted off track again, this time by GT-DELE-B as he lapped me. I braked at Tamburello, intending to go deep into the corner to let him take the normal line but instead he just ploughed into me and carried on while I recovered, MrFreggel and NXGEN_L8ger_F8nny blasted past.
With 4 minutes to go I set my best lap time so far of 1:45.693. After 18 laps, I brought the car home in 12th, running on fumes as she crossed the line. It was a good job I was a lap down as if I’d had to do the extra lap I wouldn’t have crossed the line.
For the 2nd race I qualified in 8th – I would have gone quicker but I ran out of fuel on my last lap when I was 0.7s quicker. The engine went about 100m in front of the line and I just made it across. I got a good start, only for blacky306mi to hit my rear left and send us both in to the barriers, doing damage to the rear of the car. At that point I could quite happily have sacked the whole thing off but I carried on, telling myself I needed the points to beat him in the championship.
This time he didn’t wait and I rejoined at the back. I caught him and kitkartman by the time we all arrived at the variance Alta, having to take avoiding action to stop myself hitting them. Perhaps they’d had contact as I breezed past Kitkartman on the run to Rivazza. I made up another position when Mervilde ran off track at Villeneuve and finally passed blacky306mi at Tosa on lap 3.
From there, I chased down R_Harrison_, catching him but having to take to the gravel to avoid hitting him at Rivazza. Kitkartman caught and passed me as a result of this with quite a good overtake at Acque Minerale and I didn’t want to ruin either of our races by doing something stupid at Variante Alta so backed off. We were quite even on pace and he didn’t pull away from me. Both of us were catching R_Harrison_ and I squeezed past at Tosa, still 1.2s behind Kitkartman.
As a result of running on the gravel at Rivazza, he was able to close the gap to me and muscled his way past at Tamburello, compromised, Mervilde also went past me. Luckily for me, R_Harrison_ span at Tosa and I made one of the positions back. From there, I had a bit of clear track and started to get my times down, doing a 1:46.086 on lap 13, 1:45. 438 on lap 14 and 1:45.351 on the following lap. Nothing else notable happened and I finished in 10th place, with R_Harrison_ behind me… blacky306mi had left the race so at least I’d have some points.
Another race with no much learned, other than the value of keeping out of the way of other drivers. I was disappointed to have my SA drop down as low as 66 (out of 99) after these races and didn’t really feel that the contact had been my fault. By the end of the evening, my CC was 78/99, raising by 4 over the evening and CN 72/99, dropping 2pts. Both of these were low to start off with as a result of some poor races against the AI during the week.
Racing against the AI is my plan for the next couple of weeks before we move on to Silverstone for the final 2 rounds. I want to get my SA rating back up to around 70 and get more confidence driving in traffic, especially at the start.