February 22nd, 2016 by Paul Slavonik
By now, it’s no secret that GT3 racing (real or otherwise) is intense, extremely competitive and sometimes, pure carnage. With teams and drivers alike all vying to gain any sort of edge they can get over their fellow competitors, things can oftentimes get messy at the beginning of races since the field is so compressed.
From a driver’s perspective, the start of a race represents a double-edged sword. On one hand, it is oftentimes seen as the best chance to pass the most cars at once. On the other hand, doing a maneuver such as that brings with it the danger of causing a major incident which can inadvertently take out a majority of the field. Such was the case during Round 9 of iRacing’s Blancpain Endurance Series which, out of the 250 cars taking the green throughout the eight different races, saw only 27 of them finish on the lead lap of their respective races.
Diamond in the carnage
With only two of the 36 cars in the top split finishing the online race on the lead lap, the one beneficiary of this was Nestor Garcia Jr. Starting from pole position with a time of 1:27.310, Garcia would go on to drive his BMW Z4 to an incident-free victory as he easily cruised home for the win. Leaving his competitors in the digital dust, Garcia had over a one-minute gap to his next closest rival. Regardless, the cushion did little to slow the Spaniard down as he went on to set the fastest lap of the race with a 1:28.021.
A dominating victory in all regards, Garcia claimed 211 championship points after leading 117 of the 120 laps. The points mean little to Garcia, however, as this was his first Blancpain Endurance race this season. Still, it goes to show what a combination of speed and consistency can accomplish.
Down but not out
Although the online race didn’t go as planned for many, Riccardo Schiavon of TeamGT-RS was able to slip by the majority of the on-track incidents throughout the three-hour race. After starting in eighth, Schiavon had a lot to manage as he worked his way through the carnage which unfolded around him.
As the checkered flag waved, Schiavon eventually found himself in second as his BMW crossed the line at the conclusion of the event. Unlike Garcia, however, Schiavon accrued 20 incident points as he fought through the mess of destruction.
As the final car to finish on the lead lap in this race, Schiavon may have brought home second place with 204 championship points, but given the gap to the leader, you can bet that it wasn’t in the manner in which he would’ve preferred. It was a solid finish for the Italian nonetheless and at the end of the day, a ‘finish’ is a lot more than many other drivers can say they achieved.
Juan Jose Sanchez, Cristian Manzano and Marc Perez of Odox Motorsport BES may have been the only ‘team’ to take the podium in the top split of Round 9, but they certainly weren’t without their troubles as well.
Starting in fourth, the Odox drivers were able to improve their grid position to score a podium finish in third, but like so many other teams, they too were caught up in the carnage. As a result, the Odox trio were the first car to cross the line one lap down from the leader with 15 incident points to bear. The three drivers did have a faster average lap time than both Schiavin and Garcia but the gap in front of them was too great to overcome. Regardless, a podium finish brings with it 198 much needed championship points.
Although the scorecard may tell a different tale in that they finished a lap down, a third place finish for Odox is exactly what they needed as they continue their pursuit of the Season 1 championship.
Men at Work in the Land Down Under
With only three rounds remaining in Season 1, iRacing’s Blancpain Endurance Series returns to Australia for Round 10 at Phillip Island.
Entering the twilight events of the season, the top three teams are currently separated by only 24 points with TeamGT currently leading with 1339 points followed by GermanSimRacing.de with 1320 ahead of Odox Motorsport BES with 1315.
With the official races kicking off this weekend, every point will need to count as these teams all have their sights set on the top step which may not be decided until the final round at the Circuit of The Americas.