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Endurance Sim Racing
At the weekend, the day before the Indy 500 I took part in the iRacing virtual Indy 500. All week was spent qualifying, with the average time from a 4 lap run being your qualifying time. I qualified a thousandth slower than my team mate with a 39.695, whilst my team mate qualified with a 39.694. The 33 car field that I was in was split 3 and the whole field was covered by "time". If you'd rather watch it than read about it click here to download the whole race replay! (You will need to own the track the car and have an iRacing subscription to view the .rpy file).

For me it was my first Indy 500 and my strategy was to conserve energy and fuel for the first 150 laps. Personally my car was comfortable to drive, but it really came into its own once it had 12 gallons of fuel left. I knew that from lap 178 onwards I could top the tank to 12 gallons and then I could race hard. The only real worry about my car was on restarts, it was terrible. It felt very twitchy through turns 1 and 2 and then would settle down, but by this point I had usually lost a few spots, although this didn't bother me as it was a chance to sit in the slipstream and save fuel and energy. It was just a little hairy for 2 turns each restart, however, it was a case of staying safe as 500 miles is a long way, especially when you are travelling at 230 mph or more.

Sim racing is my passion, but endurance sim racing is my idea of heaven. Concentration is just as important as setup, strategy and driving ability. One mistake or lack of concentration in an endurace event will usually be the end of your race. Plenty of energy drinks, regular fluid and tons of haribo were on hand for whenever was necessary. Each time there was a caution I would regularly top up my fluids and each cookies, or whatever was to hand. I also made a second pitstop at around lap 100 under caution as my bladder could take it no more! I remained on the lead lap, although I lost a few spots, but my concentration levels were restored so I was happy again.

I had been practising all week and had made a number of full tank fuel runs, but had not come anywhere near 200 laps without an incident, usually either because of someone elses error or by distracting myself by chatting to my team mate via Skype whilst driving. I think my longest run was about 70 laps before the official iRacing Indy 500. My team mate always says, "practice hard, race easy" and once the adrenalin of the race kicked in I would agree that this idea is definately on the right track, the more I think about it, the more the idea gains traction.

The final 30 laps were definately the hardest as I was becoming fatigued but at the same time needed to push harder than any point in the race due to the fact that this was when it counted and when positions were important compared to early on when essentially you are "just ridin'" around burning fuel off. Or in my case try to conserve it.

Even in the endurance sim racing events that I have been involved in, I usually find that around half the field don't quite seem to understand the concept of an endurance event. These drivers seem to want to race as hard as possible for the entire distance. Maybe I am just a pussy, but I usually see these aggressive drivers are the people that either cause the caution or get caught up in them. When watching long driving events on TV driven by professional drivers there appear to be very few that run at 100% all the time.
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