Fledgeling sim racing team simRACE247 enjoyed a bittersweet debut at the toughest virtual race of them all, the iRacing Nürburgring 24 Hours on the famous Nordschleife over the weekend.
While it’s Paddock Legends-backed A-Team Ferrari 488 GT3 stopped at 17 hours after qualifying ninth and an incident-packed race, the all-rookie B-Team enjoyed a brilliant debut to bring the Paddock Legends simRACE247 Audi R8 home a fine 18th overall out of the more than 1200 teams and 4,000 drivers competing in over 50 splits of 55 cars.
On the grid were the likes of Max Verstappen, Philipp Eng and Bruno Spengler as well as a host of lesser-known real-world drivers, doing battle with the best virtual racers in the world,
With no real motorsport anywhere in the world through lockdown, console and PC based sim racing has enjoyed a significant boom, plugging in as a viable alternative for race drivers unable to get out on track due to the global circumstances – not only as a tool for training but also a platform to keep the competitive juices flowing.
This phenomenon is seeing an increasing number of top real-world drivers mixing it with sim racers, which is precisely the scenario that the fledgeling simRACE247 team faced at the start of Saturday’s biggest race of a crowded sim endurance racing calendar.
Team Principal Paul Velasco explained “The weekend’s Nürburgring 24 hour race can only be classified as a win for the entire Paddock Legends simRACE247 team. The B-team was most impressive — all the guys are relatively new to iRacing and it was also many of their first big endurance race too — and the first of many I’m sure!
“For a first race together at the Nordschleife of all places, the goal going into the race was to just make it to the end. “We were expecting some trouble through the race and the lads certainly found it, but the team showed extraordinary maturity to carry on with the job at hand and bring the car home to an incredible eighteenth place finish.”
Paddock Legends simRCE247 B-Team was the sweet part of the weekend’s fruit as the crew of rookie endurance drivers and mostly iRacing novices, Angus Claasen, Brock Trainor, Kewyn Snyman, Elliot Simpson and Scott Dawkins managed by Sam Tomlinson and Vladislav Zenkov and supported by tech guru Bernie Lees fettled their iRacing rigs from as far afield as Russia, South Africa, England, Australia and New Zealand, to come together to race as a team at the digital Nurburgring in the Cloud.
Despite the rookie blunder of running out of fuel and losing a chunk of time early in the race to dropping back to 35th after a couple of hours, the Paddock Legends simRACE247 Audi R8 enjoyed a strong run from there to finish a fine 18th. The entire 24 hours proved a voyage of discovery for the young crew, which tackled night racing for the first time at the meanest venue of them all.
“The lads’ teamwork and calmness amid the tension of the race was admirable,” an exhausted but delighted team manager Sam Tomlinson explained after the race. “Our whole team showed a maturity that belies the fact that this crew was running in this epic race for the first time, especially considering that we were all doing our own thing just two weeks before!”
The iRacing Nürburgring 24, however, proved a bitter pill for the simRACE247 A-Team Ferrari 488 GT3 piloted by Maxim Bunevich and Nicolas Taeymans. Max showed the pace to challenge the untouchable Redline Ferrari driver Max Benecke, but after a number of incidents, the team opted to rather park the Ferrari after 17 hours.
“Max and Nicolas had a tough weekend as time was not on their side in preparing for the race, but they no doubt proved their potential as a team and to see Paddock Legends simRACE247 right up there with Redline, Coanda and Williams eSports on the live TV timing screens on live TV was a special bonus,” team manager Tomlinson concluded.
“We have learned valuable lessons, we know what we are up against and what we need to do for the team to perform at an optimum level going forward. “We also have a driver in Maxim that can take on the best and this provides the foundation to build for the future.”
SimRACE247 is now ready for the post-mortem, reset, reload and come back stronger for the next chapter — bring it on!
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