View the pre-race event details here
A few weeks back, there was a vote behind the scenes at IVRA between the teams for which layout to run for the upcoming 8hrs of Watkins Glen. Many teams thought that the inner loop chicane was too treacherous for the combination of cars - which, we'll admit, we thought was a bit of a cop out. But there are many ways to avoid a trip to the barriers in that corner, and we felt we'd learned them in the relatively recent PEC race on the same combination.
As it turns out, that turn is treacherous even for some of the very best that sim racing has to offer – if they decide to opt for outright speed over survival every single time! And that's exactly what happened, with the 8hr event making the field as a whole look more than a bit silly with 13 safety cars, most of which were for accidents that were almost identical!
As far as it was for our cars, the #256 (Daniel Gilding and Chris Chadderton) qualified towards the rear of an incredibly competitive pack but benefitted from a good start and then the misfortune of a number of cars including the class leading Archer Brothers car. This misfortune was partly a side effect of their own success, having qualified deep into the Pro ranks of GT3 cars and ending up caught up in other cars accidents.
The first safety car period, then, was from lap 2. With that out of the way, the next stint was almost a full one for a lot of cars, and the #256 found it's way into the top 5 positions. That incredible feat was unfortunately short lived, though, with a tangle in class positions eventually leading to the #256 in the wall and 30 minutes of repairs.
During the early madness, the #56 car had been keeping fairly quiet. This car was taking part for the first time this season, having moved from the reserve list. Taylor Lane was using all of his experience from that earlier PEC race to keep things clean over the Inner Loop chicane and methodically move up the standings as others fell by the wayside.
Fall by the wayside they did, with 74 of the eventual 260 laps done across 13 gruelling safety car periods in a race that never really got into a groove that felt like anything other than a series of short races on the same day. As Taylor and Pablo Arteaga kept their noses clean, though, they cycled through to the lead in one of the safety car periods in the second half - before a scrape alongside the barriers brought an end to any thoughts of unlikely glory.
Both cars did an outstanding job to carry on throughout the carnage, with the #256 managing to end up 2 places up on it's qualifying position despite so long in the pits for repairs, and the #56 finishing a whopping 10 positions positive in P5. Their engineers, Tom Stanley and Tom Marton respectively, made excellent choices throughout the buildup and during the event to get the most from their situations. The whole team now looks onward to the next round at Interlagos with a great sense of anticipation!
Our thanks go to Chris Purnell and Virtual Motorsport Mentor for their ongoing support and specific coaching sessions in the lead up to this event.
"Realistically, the outcome exceeded all expectations. Personally, I'm not satisfied with my initial lack of pace and the mistakes I made towards the end of my stint. Taylor did an outstanding job opening and closing the race, while Tom also played a crucial role in providing the necessary support." Pablo Arteaga
"Well, that was one heck of a day racing! We exceeded any expectations we had going into the race with such fierce competition across the board. Pablo did an outstanding job keeping us right where we needed to be. It was so unfortunate that he clipped the wall at the bus stop, but it was such a high-pressure situation and it was bound to happen at some point. We have to thank Tom Osama for his efforts in building the setup as well as keeping us on the right strategy to capitalize on every situation thrown at us. We also have to thank Hockenheim, as the leftover setup we built for there seemed to be perfect for Watkins Glen surprisingly!" Taylor Lane