After many months of preparations the NEO Endurance Series (NES) finally kicked-off last Sunday at Sebring International Raceway for a six hour race. The NES is a multi-class endurance series with three classes: Prototype (P), Grand Touring (GT) and Grand Touring Challenge (GTC). In the GTC class all teams need to have at least one AM driver in their line-up. Over 183 drivers, divided over 43 teams, are registered for this series.
The start of the race was very clean. After an extra pace lap all cars managed to get through the opening laps without any incidents with Coanda Simsport leading the field in the early stages of the race, with #15 Friction Racing, Radicals Online and Apex Racing UK not far from the leader. On lap 31 Marcus Hamilton of Friction Racing #15 passed Jörn Jens for the overall lead. There was a scary moment for the top three leaders in Turn 3, when two GTC cars made contact right in front of them. The #80 KRT GT Motorsport had wheel spin coming out of the corner and hit the unfortunate Apex Racing UK GTC car of Tim Mawson. The blue and white GTC car flipped on his roof and rolled a couple of times. Surprisingly no other cars hit the rolling Apex Racing UK car.
Radicals Online took over first place after a spin from Coanda Simsport and they never lost the lead the rest of the way. Wyatt Gooden and Paul Ilbrink only improved their lead throughout the rest of the race and took the checkered flag after six hours of sim racing. Behind Radicals Online, Coanda Simsport finished second although they had a very tense couple of final laps. On lap 180 the #11 spun coming out of Turn 16 and went straight in to the wall. Luckily for them, the gap to the third place car was big enough that they were still able to finish second. Apex Racing UK finished third. Twisted Apex Racing #23 managed to finish fourth after some troubles early in the race. The #8 of Gathering of Tweakers 1 was a great example that pure speed is not needed to finish in the top five. Because GoT 1 stayed out of trouble, consistency and a change of strategy at the end of the race, earned them a fifth place finish.
One second behind GoT1, Team Chimera #24 finished sixth. They also ran a trouble-free race without any incident. This team also won the CleanX Challenge, because they had zero incident points at the end of the race. Very impressive.
KRT Motorsport came home seventh ahead of Racing Lions, who had an eventful first part of the race with some contact, a spin and some problems in pit lane during the first stop. In ninth was Team 7 IB-ClasseWeb. This car had a lot of troubles throughout the race, but they never gave up and managed to finish within the top ten. The final car in the top ten of the prototype class is Kroenert Motorsport, despite an abrupt ending to their race while running at the front. Because they completed more than 70% of the race distance, they are still classified as finishers.
New World Sim Sport took the GT Class checkered flag after a hard-fought battle with Glacier Racing. Race control determined Glacier Racing’s Riku Alatalo exceeded the maximum driving time, so Glacier Racing was excluded from the results. This means all teams behind New World Sim Sport moved-up one position after the race. Apex Racing UK finished second despite contact with an other car halfway through the race, but managed to get the damage fixed and continue, coming home ahead of third place finishers Fenix Motorsports 64. In fourth place it was iRacingDenmark Assault Racing after leading the class early in the race, before trouble struck throughout the race. simrc.de finished the top five of the GT class. These guys had a pretty anonymous race staying under the radar . . . but that is not a bad thing in endurance racing!
Gathering of Tweakers 2, Torque Freak Racing, Radical Racing UK, Friction Racing and Lazyman Racing were the other 10 finishers teams in the GT Class. Friction Racing and Lazyman Racing both gained a position because of a post-race penalty for Asbury Motorsports for avoidable contact in final stage of the race.
Vergil Racing dominated the race in GTC class and led the class almost from start to finish. The Dart Frogs who finished second also had a flawless race, but just did not have the pure speed to catch Vergil Racing. SRN Motorsports finished third after a battle with the #88 car. Throughout the race these two teams switched positions many time, but in the end it was SRN Motorsports who took the final step of the podium.
In fourth place was Virus after another “anonymous” race in which this team was very consistent and managed to stay out of trouble. KRT GT Motorsport finished fifth, despite a tense moment in the early part of the race as described at the beginning of this article. Torque Freak Racing #81 took the sixth position. IRDK Endurance had a very eventful race at Sebring, but still managed to finish in seventh position with good pace despite incidents. Team Chimera finished eighth, after a stop and hold penalty for avoidable contact, while Slipstream Racing and New World Sim Sport finished ninth and tenth, respectively.
The next race of the NEO Endurance Series is on December 21st at Circuit of the Americas. The six hour race begins at 14:00 GMT live on Racespot TV.