iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona Recap and Impressions

A week after The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona took place. It was a multiclass event that started on January 31st and ran for 24 hours straight finishing at 5:20 AM on February first here on the west coast of the U.S..

The cars in the event were the HPD-ARX-01C for the prototype class and then the BMW Z4 , Ford GT, McLaren MP4-12C and RUF RT 12R Track in the GT3 class.

The turnout for the event was pretty spectacular and I have some stats for you on it.

1,860 members joined the race, spread across 409 teams and 10 splits.  Around 230,000 laps were turned during the races for this one event and 4,385 driver-swaps were performed.

Those 230,000 laps equates to about 818,000 miles driven. To give you an example of how far that is. It’s about 25,000 miles to go around the entire earth. That’s more than 32 times around the planet. Or another way to put it, it’s about 240,000 miles from the earth to the moon. So that’s going to the moon and almost back two times !

The iron men, or psycho drivers of the event awards go to Ian Plasch and Jacob Klein who drove the entire 24 hours on their own without additional drivers. Ian was in the HPD and turned 786 laps and Jacob drove the McLaren and ran 756 laps. There were others that ran the event solo, but Ian and Jacob turned the most laps per class. They both got disqualified since you needed a minimum of two drivers to run the race. Both deserve a special award though and at least this shout out for their accomplishments. I don’t know how they did it as I was spent from my 6 hours worth of driving.

iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona

So there were 20 team winners and I’m going to give them all a quick mention. From top split to the bottom, first lets call out the HPD winners.

Top Split HPD Winning Team was:
Coanda Simsport who led 755 of 874 Laps and had a team of 4 drivers. Paul Williams, Martin Kroenke, Mitchell deJong and Justin Lindsay. The iron man for the team was Mitchel and he ran 386 laps himself

Top Split in the GT3 class winner was:
MWSS Moonshine in the McLaren and I’m not sure how many laps they led, but they completed 790. Their team consisted of 5 drivers. Tim Claessens, Simo Leppanen, Joel Tremblay, Patrick Bachelard and Antti Pihlaja. Antti was the iron man for that team completing 292 laps.

Here’s the rest of the winning HPD teams:

Split 2: Petronas Racing Team
Split 3: HMB Motorsports
Split 4: Eleventh Hour
Split 5: Online-SimRacing.de
Split 6: Red Mist Racing
Split 7: Champweb
Split 8: Over The Wall
Split 9: Evil Weeble Racing
Split 10: Get Like Me Motorsports

Here’s the rest of the winning GT3 teams:

Split 2: JCL Sim Racing
Split 3: A3M Racing
Split 4: Viper Strike Motorsports
Split 5: Commodore Motorsports
Split 6: iRacers.hu BMW Z4 Team #2
Split 7: C360ir 1
Split 8: Baker Racing Team
Split 9: Can-Am 2
Split 10: HSVRacing

Congratulations to all of these teams and to all of you who finished the 24 hour marathon.

So now to my race recap. I was on a team with three other drivers representing Inside Sim Racing. A few months back I met Bruno do Carmo in a GT3 practice session and he is a fan of the show. He offered me some tips and his setup that day and in turn, I asked him if he wanted to be part of an endurance racing team. I have to mention as well, the dude is fast ! He accepted and also brought his brother Fabio along. Both of them are from Brazil and the three of us ran with our lead blogger John Sabol.

We chose the BMW Z4 and went to work a few weeks in advance of the race. Bruno and Fabio did the majority of our testing and participated in the Roar Before the 24 to test things out.

I mentioned Bruno was fast, well so is Fabio . So fast that Bruno grabbed pole position for the GT3 Class with a 1:43.794. Speaking of qualifying, there was some controversy over drivers doing things to gain an advantage in qualifying by either running on the apron or having a teammate skip the bus stop. iRacing decided to change the sporting code rules and penalize those drivers that found that advantage by removing their times.

Our time was legit and we used our team to help Bruno draft to get that pole, but within even the new rules.

Another change iRacing made was to the service itself and damage model. The pitcrew can now replace parts that are damaged beyond repair, instead of simply ending your race with a disqualification for being too damaged. Replacing a part will generally take a fairly long amount of time (particularly if multiple parts are badly damaged), so in short races you may not be able to get your car fixed before the race is over. For instance, swapping in a fresh engine can take just over 30 minutes, and replacing the suspension on a corner of the car will take just over 8 minutes.

This allowed more cars to continue on during the race which in my opinion was a double edged sword. I think it made some drivers go overboard a bit and not be as concerned about keeping it clean. On the other hand, I think it was a good thing and something that is needed for endurance racing. The other problem with it is that the HPD wasn’t getting fixed enough and there were some in my split that I was faster than because of their lack of aero.

Fast forwarding a bit to race day, we knew we had a strong car and team and wanted to be in the top split. This is one area I hope iRacing improves on in the future by taking the iRating for the whole team into account to seed the teams into the splits. The way it is now, you can either get your team into a high split by having one driver with a high iRating, or you can get into a lower split and sandbag by having your lowest ranked driver start the race. I think that the team iRating should be based on the average of all drivers that are on a particular team when anyone on that team enters the race.

So the green flag dropped on January 31st at approximately 5:20 A.M. which set back our driver schedule a bit, but we worked around it. Bruno started the car from the pole and stayed out in frot and in a battle with the #131 JCL sim Racing car. He handed the car off to Fabio and he continued that battle with the #131 until lap 93 when he got into the back of the #6 RUF that slowed a tad too much into the bus stop and damaged the front end of our Z4. Two laps later he came in for fuel and tires and decided to keep the car as is and luckily it didn’t hurt the car too bad and he was able to stay in that battle with the 131 and maintain the lead for a good portion of it.

John entered the car at lap 127 and also maintained that battle for about 10 laps until the 131 started to pull away.

Then on 157 it was my turn to get into the car. During our pit stop some of the damage was repaired but we still had about another 44 seconds of internal damage to repair and I left the pits. I got into the car about five hours into the race to run my first stint and it didn’t start well. I didn’t sleep well the night before due to nerves and on top of that had major adrenaline flowing through me as I tried to get up to speed. As I came into turn one after the major braking zone coming off the banking, the rear-end came around on me and I ended up putting it into the wall crumpling the front end again.

I handed the car back to Bruno at lap 188 with luckily no more incidents and hoped he could make up some time as we dropped back to 2nd and in a see saw battle with the iRacers.hu team as we were on alternating pit strategies.

Bruno then got back into the car and on his out lap, sustained a little more front end damage when he got into the back of the #15 car when he lost the rear a bit exiting the international horseshoe. At this point it was Bruno and Fabios turn to do their bulk of the driving and they ended up getting the car into a see saw battle with the 131 for the lead as we were on a slightly different pit sequence and they handed the car back to John on lap 339 and it was our turn to drive our bulk of the load.

The 131 ended up pulling away from us at that point as John and I weren’t able to maintain their pace. That put us into a battle with the #23 iRacers.hu car as we see sawed with them for 2nd place for a good portion of the night. On about lap 530 the iRacers.hu team had some problems after a driver swap which forced them to pit again after just two laps into stint for some repairs and another driver swap and that put us in sole possession of 2nd place.

The portion that John and I ran was pretty much incident free except for an HPD that lost the handle in the international horseshoe and clipped John. Also on my last run on lap 611 we were sitting comfortably in 2nd while having a great battle with Wim Stockmans in the #99 BMW when the #23 who was trying to make up some time after the earlier mishap on lap 530, clipped the grass and went hard into the wall right in front of me.

iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona

At lap 642 I finished my last lap in the car at about 1:00 AM my time after driving a total of over 5 hours off and on throughout the day and night sitting with a healthy lead over 2nd and putting it into the capable hands of Bruno who I hoped could catch the #131 who stretched out to a lap and a half lead on us at that point. .

Bruno ran flawlessly and handed the car back to his brother Fabio on lap 732 who then tried to maintain that pace and ran some stellar laps as he chased down the 131 and got right behind him but was a lap down.

Then a fatal blow to the ISR team came on lap 773 as Fabio tried to apply some pressure to the lead car of JCL Sim Racing in the #131 RUF. As he entered Turn 1, he lost the back end of the car and took it into the wall. The extent of the damage was pretty severe and we weren’t able to continue and finished in 7th place.

As I mentioned above the #131 JCL Sim Racing car ended up going on to win our split and congratulations to them on a stellar run. They were hard to catch and ran a great race. We were too damaged to fix the car in time and ended up 7th in class.

To my teammates, you guys were awesome ! To Fabio, we all made mistakes during the race and what happened to you could have easily happened to any of us. You and Bruno were lightning fast all day and if John and I were a tad faster, we may have been up in first. Overall I had a blast and thanks to iRacing for making this all happen.

Speaking of iRacing I talked to Tony Gardner after the race who was on cloud 9 due to how things went and he should be. They put a lot of work into making driver swaps, 24 hour events and team racing happen and it was incredible..

Some things I would like to see changed.. I’d like to see the teams overall iRating averaged for the splits so that the team that enters, who ever is a driver on it, that iRating is averaged. I’d like to see team iratings established . Day to night transitions as well as a more advanced damage model that Tony told me they want to see happen. They’ve added two new endurance races to the schedule since this one as such a success. The 6 hours of the Glen and 24 hours of Spa that are running this summer. Next one is the 12 hours of Sebring at the end of March and the ISR team will be back to see if we can better our 24 hours of Daytona finish.

There is other ways to get your iRacing endurance race fix and that’s with some of the hosted leagues like Masters of Endurance. The only problem with those is that it’s only one field and you could practice for it and potentially not make the field. Great thing about the iRacing events is that all teams that enter, can compete.

Congrats to all the teams that entered, all the teams that finished and especially all the 20 winning teams ! Oh and you solo guys, you’re frigging CRAZY !