February 11th, 2016 by Paul Slavonik
Coinciding with the world-famous motorsports spectacle known as the Bathurst 12-hour, iRacing’s Blancpain Endurance Series took to their digital counterpart of the iconic Mount Panorama for three-hours of sim-racing around the 3.8 mile road course.
As the Bathurst 12-hour got underway, iRacing fans were also rewarded by seeing fellow iRacer Shane van Gisbergen set the new real-life lap record at Bathurst with a 2:01.567 using the new McLaren 650S GT3. Would anyone in iRacing’s Blancpain Endurance Series be able to touch his time during Round 8?
With only three official races taking the green flag last week, the top Strength of Field race (SoF 3204) saw a lot of action with a total of 47 cars taking the grid.
Keeping it clean
With Luis Rodriguez of Vortex SimRacing #111 taking the pole with a 2:02.417 in his McLaren MP4 which he shared with Massimo Erra, things were looking good from the start. However, Rodriguez and Erra were unable to maintain their control of the race despite leading 16 laps.
As Vortex succumbed to The Mountain, Odox Motorsport BES were ready to take their place for the lead. With Cristian Manzano and Marc Perez piloting their McLaren, the Odox duo would lead for 45 laps as they crossed the line to win at Bathurst.
Being fully aware that keeping it clean at Bathurst is the surest way to finish the race, the Odox drivers only accrued two incident points over the course of the three hour race. Additionally, Manzano and Perez brought home 203 championship points from their victory.
Like many people who don’t want to have to deal with the hassle of finding a reliable driver for their team, Kim Eriksson of Finland decided that the best person to partner with for the quest on The Mountain was himself. It was a risk which paid off.
Starting in seventh, Eriksson worked his McLaren through the crowded course and the mess of on-track incidents to find himself in contention for a podium finish. Holding his ground until the end of the 86-lap event, Eriksson would go on to finish in second just over seven seconds shy of Odox. However, Eriksson fought all the way until the end with his fastest lap of the race being the final lap. His determination and consistency paid off in the form of not only a step on the Round 8 podium, but also with 198 championship points.
That’s right, there’s more! Taking the final step of the podium was TeamGT-RS driver Riccardo Schiavon. Starting the race way back in thirteenth, Schiavon was the only non-McLaren driver on the podium as he piloted the BMW Z4.
Still, Schiavon remained solid and consistent throughout the three-hour online race and only accrued one incident point overall. Additionally, he was a full 30-seconds ahead of his closest rival as he crossed the finish line to take third place.
Although the McLaren does have the higher top-end speed, sim racers such as Schiavon are a testament to the fact that it’s not the car that’s doing the driving.
With Shane van Gisbergen’s record setting lap safe for the time being, iRacing’s Blancpain Endurance Series packs up and heads to the second favorite track in Belgium – Circuit Zolder.
A nearly 2.5 mile long circuit, Zolder is a favorite for many drivers due to its fast sweeping corners and its many passing zones. Despite this, things can get very tense at Zolder very quickly due to the fact that some areas of the track are a single-drive line such as the Kleine Chicane and my favorite turn in the world to type – Bolderberghaarspeldbocht.
With only four weeks remaining this season, Team GT currently leads the way with 1339 points followed by GermanSimRacing.de with 1254 ahead of Odox Motorsport BES with 1117. Nothing’s carved in stone yet as we still have several venues remaining including the maiden voyage for the series at the infamous Nürburgring.