Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Better than expected!

So we begin today, the first of the proper entries to this blog/diary! What a day this was. I was busy in the morning, and was unable to practice then, but that didn't change anything, as most the day was free. As I've stated yesterday today was meant to be a Caterham day. The CSR200 was the little beast, little under-powered some may say, but not in my eyes! The car seems just perfect, and allows for precise and extremely addicting control on the limit, while still keeping it sideways at times. 

This afternoon was just relaxation and practice with this little monster, I've done some yesterday already, but I needed more, improving was extremely important and making sure mistakes are completely out of question was my main goal. This resulted in a really smooth and consistent times, every time I drove out I had laps that may not always have been better, but always extremely close, and gradually getting better over time. Thanks to the cars practice was pure pleasure. I've got probably around 2-4 hours drive time total for practice, which is perfectly normal for me for 2 days, and that is pure track time, not pit sitting waiting for time to go bye!

Now, time for the important stuff, the thing you're always waiting for. The race weekend. The schedule for the race was very simple, 30 minutes of official practice session, 10 minutes of standard qualifying (everyone on 1 track), 10 minutes of warm up for a little break and prepare for what comes next. The two, 25 minute long, races. Quickly in the practice session it became apparent I have no real competition. I was nearly 3 seconds quicker than anyone until nearly the end when one driver began closing it, and got to about a second and a half slower. You have to keep in mind, that I was using the default setup that comes with the game, as I have not mentioned that before, it's a crucial part of it. You can see I had absolutely no car advantage over anyone on track! But practice is probably the least interesting part of it, as I stayed in pits for about 15 minutes of 30! Every driver needs breaks and I nearly always do this in practice before qualifying, but then do a lap or two just before, to get back into driving it instantly on the qualifying laps, as that session is too short to take time getting back into pace.

The qualifying session went by pretty smoothly, but none of the laps was really good. I've gone out at the very start of the session and began lapping, but unluckily I had a driver slow me down in the last 2 sectors of my fast lap and I was 0.5s slower than I would be usually and decided to do another attempt with a clear track. I tried, but couldn't improve, didn't get a clean lap in and ended up winning the qualifying by "just" 1 second. I guess it could be worse but could have been even better as I've been able to do a time .5s quicker on race fuel load in warm up, but again, I won the qualifying so nothing really to complain about.

Now for the first race. Of course, as a winner of qualifying I was starting on pole position. I got off the line perfectly and no one stood a chance so I was over a car length in front nearly instantly and kept it until the first corner and then it was just a matter of increasing the lead, and so I did, until I had about 12-13s of a lead. This was when my only trouble arose.

Leading straight from the start.
So for trouble. I made absolutely no mistake up to this point. A perfect, extremely quick race up to this point. Very consistent lap times but then disaster, I run over a curb, and some curbs in this game, suddenly can bump a car, as if there was a massive hole or a literal bum there. This was what happened to my car. I've gone over a curb which is at an exit to an extremely quick turn, which meant I spun, and due to auto clutch being off, as I prefer driving this way, I stalled and lost over 10 seconds, meaning I lost my position to 2 drivers which were now fighting with each other.
Going over the curb.
And into a spin I go.
Drivers whizzing past me, while I accelerate back up.
This battle very soon was interrupted by the 2nd of the drivers having to defend from my attacks, they were fierce and it took me as little  as half a lap to get successful. I pressured him, he was making mistakes and finally made a big enough mistake that I could easily overtake him, while not being involved physically, as my car touched no other car in this race (had a really tiny bump in the 2nd race, but it wasn't felt by either of us), as it often is in my case.
One down,  one to go.

Now it was only me and one more driver left in the fight for the lead. I needed to catch up to him, but that proved to be no problem, took me less than half a lap to get into his tail. Then it was yet another fight, trying to overtake him, every time though he had an answer, until he also made a big mistake after just another lap. It was again not at all forced by me physically, but most probably the nervousness got the driver in front making it easy to overtake him.
Him making a mistake.
And I'm in front.
From here on race one was boring as ever could be if you're not the driver. I had a simple race putting in really good lap times lap after lap, until we finished racing and I regained my previous lead with even a bit of a surplus. When I finished the race I could see no one on the straight, which is a bit crazy if you think that these cars only have around 200hp and you drive on the straight until the timing point for over 10 seconds. It wasn't too crazy of a race and I'm glad that this curb didn't damage me or let go of my win chances, I'll try to never touch that curb ever again as it's a silly place to lose so much time.
Empty straight while I'm crossing the finish line.

Race two was much simpler, While I had a good start, and I was starting from 2nd last position (9 drivers, top 8 started in reverse order to the results of race one) and was only able to get into 5th at the start, but that didn't matter. I got out of there, while being clean and doing my thing, which was safe but aggressive attacks to get in front as soon as possible. I though I can get into 4th but that didn't happen at the time yet. I had a couple pretty quick drivers in front of me, being slowed down by a slower driver trying to protect the leader from us. But those efforts proved futile.
Second corner after start, fighting to get into 4th.
(Me on the inside)
The protection of the leader ended with a real mess, I kept behind it all, and midway through the 2nd lap, we had a situation where I kept a little behind, braking early to that corner as I usually did, while the 4 in the front had a little bout. 2 of them made mistakes, one of them nearly costed me the race, and the other was harmless. I just kept my cool and once I've seen someone about to cut across the track I quickly turned to the other side of the track, having a near miss but I never for a second lost my calm. Then the leader made a mistake into the next corner and I just sped off into the void, where no one would ever see me again on track. And until the end I accumulated as much as 38 seconds of a lead over the 2nd driver, and I made no wrong decision, no mistake, an absolutely perfect race. To be honest it was a perfect race weekend so I'm extremely happy with it, and couldn't be any better, as to finish it all off with 2 fastest laps, so in each race. So now, I'll tell you about my plans for Wednesday tomorrow, and about how I trained for it thus far and the rest of this post will just be rest of pictures showing all that really happened for me in the 2nd race. Thanks for reading, and hope for you to come back for more awesome race reports!
What I've seen just before the big mess.
First driver down.
Overtaken another car, as the leader recovers,
and another driver is losing control and is on the grass.
The near miss I encountered, it wasn't anything to be comfortable about.
As demonstrated here with the car I just took over
has just been heavily damaged.
Leader off, time to take over the lead for myself.
The situation at the end of that lap.
And now at the end of the race 38 seconds clear of anyone behind.

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