Lost but Won – Round1 ISEC 2016

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Background music: Hans Zimmer – Inception

It’s the Round1 of the International Simracing Endurance Championship further down in the text as ISEC and i am back driving something more seriously online after 9 years. You’d read that second time if you read my previous article, or third, if you follow my page on facebook.

When i commit myself to something i am doing that because i want to win. Nothing less. I am not in for it just to be part of it. So when i give my best and in return i am struck by something that’s out of my control, something that i cannot better something on which i have no influence, which will interfere in my result it’s not something with which i am comfortable, something i can accept. Especially when you put real effort in it and the hours.

When i speak of efforts, you might call me lazy but i really hate to search for informations, especially when they are not yet facts. There was one fact, the race was on 27th of February. It’s known, there in that time that happens and that’s it. I don’t like too much changes. I am writing this because my previous article was about a race, test race actually which i thought it was an actual race of the Championship 5min prior the start of it. And that’s because i didn’t informed myself enough. It’s my fault and no ones else. As much as i have informed myself for that one, i was as well for the first race, real first race, at Silverstone. I knew the date of the race at least and the timing of quals and the start. But i didn’t knew details like, are we going after qualifying straight to race or we have small time to try out things one last time? Perhaps these small problems(question marks) come from my 9 years absence of racing something serious online. Like in a Championship.

But that’s all up to me and i can live with it. But those things over which i have no control?
Less than 48 hours of the race and i still don’t know who’s going to be my teammate.
Less than 24 hours of the race we knew now there is my friend who is going to drive alongside me, from the same PC. From the same Steam account. Don’t be surprised, because i still think i am the only one in Macedonia who is in possession of rFactor2 with lifetime access. So, 1 car 2 drivers who need to drive it, changing names will be problem.
Less than 12 hours of the race my teammate still haven’t driven one single lap with the car at the track because the network limit at the Stefanovski Virtual Racing Academy over the last 12 hours has been past and my friend Darko Jovanovski wasn’t able to join the server, therefore didn’t drove a lap at all for the guys working in the Racing Academy later to call the network provider (specially for the ISEC race) to a known friend of theirs who works at the network provider company, to speed up the network a bit in the Academy.
Less than 4 hours of the race my friend is driving his first laps. He is doing great job although 1 second slower than mine 2.00.7 with full fuel without any assists, i doubt anyone getting that close to me with less than 30 laps. And how he could do anything else when he is the latest champion from a professionally organized championship with fixed cars and setups in LAN connection, just like i was 3 years ago in F1, he’s now in all-around classes and powered wheel axle cars, who got the ultimate prize of driving real race car for one race?
Less than 2 hours of the race he finished one stint and he honorably said that he isn’t in the best shape to do the race and eventually spoil the race. After all we were representing a team TR Motorsport who gave us their belief, of doing our best. I said okay it’s fine. I can do this. (and i have never driven 3 hours race alone) We switched and i sat in, went on for another half an hour, tried few other things differently with the ‘far from perfect’ setup and then stopped so i could take my first food of the day, 7days donut. I was driving already for some two hours and i haven’t had any breakfast yet. All i got in me was the beer from the last night. Cheers to that!

When i came back on the server the time was saying that another 10minutes remaining until the qualifying session starts. Right up till that point i was giving my best. I wasn’t hiding any aces in my sleeves. I was pushing as hard as i could and trying things with the setup as much as i could. My lap times were true. But like i am destined on this circuit my best came right when i needed the most, just like when in other championship 3 years ago i beat my teammate who drove almost 1000 laps to create the setup, shared with me, then i went quicker than any time i had before around the circuit and not just mine, but his as well, right on the last qualifying lap. So now on last minutes before qualifying started i clicked the right things in the setup eventually and went faster than any lap time before i had with the car on that track on that server. Lap that saved me and my team.
1 minute 59 seconds point 9. I was almost a second quicker than my nearest competitor.

Qualifying started and they proved me i was right they were hiding aces in their sleeves. That’s why i said that lap saved me. So i go out and spun on first qual lap. Did another. 1 minute 59 seconds point 7. On pole in GT3 class i was by -0.182 from Alexey Osipov in the other Ferrari 458 of the GT3 Class. Since i haven’t reassured myself of the setup for the race and i had no idea if we will have a time to try it out after qualifying is finished i went on to try things for the race with full fuel of course, while qualifying was still with some 14 minutes to go. Then Antonio Abreu went -0.092 quicker than me in his McLaren P1 and took the pole of the class. I went back immediately and tried to beat my previous lap. 5 minutes remained. In the warm up lap i wasn’t much carrying because i wanted to enter 2nd lap if needed, just in case. I missed the apex on the first corner and was +0.138 in S1 from my best lap. Went on to finish with +0.333 than mine and the 2nd lap had no chance since i destroyed the tires. I stopped. Got P2 in the class from 4 or 5 cars i think? You see i still don’t know that information…

So the race came. I said i will go easy and i indeed did that. If in practice my first 5 laps of the stint were 2:00.5 – 2:00.7 – 2:01.0 – 2:01.5 – 2:01.8 in the race, add +2 seconds on each.
I was careful not to crash into someone and leave bad impression so i took it easy. I chased the leader Antonio Abreu although he escaped a bit, he started losing control of his car pretty much often. At Becketts he went sideways and i was just behind him, following him within 0.300. As he went across whole racing line on the exit of Becketts into Chapel i went wide left on the inside, over the curb and continued while Alexey Osipov from the other side with another car from the EGT class went by past me. I was 2nd again. Now chasing Alexey Osipov instead Antonio Abreu. Alexey Osipov was quite fast, but i caught him. I got near him and i started seeing my chances of doing an eventual overtake. Looking “over his shoulders” made sure he was busy with the mirrors. Came the hard braking point for the left corner at Club Corner before the straight-finish line and i am right behind the leader Alexey Osipov. I am all concentrated on that small duel of ours and had no time to see the car from behind that went in my rear and literally threw me in the grass. I spun but luckily got in control quite fast. Alexey Osipov went away. Others went away. But not far. I started catching them and in the next lap i caught and overtook two Porsch cars, both in the same lap. Few laps past and as i was getting near the rest suddenly out of nowhere the TV screen, brand Grunding, throws notification in rectangle shape in the center of the screen filled black with white text in it saying “ECO MODE: press escape or any other key to cancel the shut down”. I was literally driving blind on the straight towards Brooklands corner. Panicked and i almost hit escape button! While racing and trying not to lose position, not to mention that LMP1 was as well closing in from behind i couldn’t see 10% of the Brooklands corner! Shouted to the guy working in the Academy who run downstairs and in the moment didn’t knew how to turn it off. As he was trying out things and i was driving blind for now some 10 seconds on the straight right when faster car was approaching me to overtake me, the TV went off. I hit the brakes and moved to the right knowing i will go in the run-off area. I saw in the livestream that i spun and commentators said “i gave too much space to faster cars” but they didn’t notice that i didn’t started driving right after i lost control. I stalled completely.  While TV restarted and i started to drive again it took another 10/15 seconds and if it was mine, there wouldn’t be anything left of that TV. Not literally but i was that much pissed off. Influenced my driving afterwards the least. Competition went away. The leader? He was -40 seconds down the track. I was one place ahead of being last.

I was driving from 12:30 local time and now it was almost 17 o’clock. My legs were hurting. My friend is a smaller guy in size so he closed in the pedals and i wasn’t much demanding at the time while testing as i was pretty much comfortable in the simrig, but for big lengths? Not one bit! Started feeling blisters on the thumb of the left hand. My left foot/ankle was very sore. But i pushed nevertheless as much as i could. I saw Alexey Osipov made mistake and now my main rival in the class was only on -20 sec down the road. My best laptime was almost a full second down than his best but i wasn’t as much consistent as he was. Driving a car in the slowest class, in a Championship were 27 cars from 32 are faster than you, getting through the traffic and letting faster cars pass by is really tricky. Especially if you find yourself in the wrong time in wrong place. It’s not hard to lose control and waste whole team effort of some racing team. And certainly i don’t wanna be that guy for whom they will be talking. Next race is in month and a half. Month and a half is a long time to be spoken and criticized (haha)

As i was driving the race i couldn’t stop but think about what i am going to write. I just have to say it. There are drivers who shouldn’t be driving in the classes they were and the Championship at whole. There were LMP1 or LMP2 cars weaving all over the track, especially the Aston Martin of the EGT class. Coming to pass you by whole lap but still not respecting your race. Goes in front of you then brakes where you won’t expect him to brake. I won’t say names, but there were couple of guys and i don’t wanna be arrogant but they were very bad. Some forgot brakes exist. Some think that you should move others fail to calculate situations or to see obvious movements and the pace of the car in front, so they dive and try to pass you as quick as possible. Some don’t understand that for The Loop you take it wide so you can have better exit and greater speed, so they just dive without thinking where you will go.

The race up till that point was going in the direction of my worst fears. Interfered by things not in my control. The leader escaped almost full minute due to these problems and my good faith of moving here and there making space for cars to pass. And how many cars past me today in this race i think didn’t pass me in 17 years of simracing history totally. So i thought, i am racing as well guys and i won’t be moving that politely as i was. After all there is a clear statement in the regulations that GT3 cars should remain in their racing line and let LMP1 and LMP2 cars overtake them, namely it was easier for them to go and make decision while doing the overtake. Makes sense for LMP1, they are twice faster. At least for those skilled drivers it’s really easy. The rest, like LMP2 and EGT? Nightmares! Then i won’t move i decided not even to lift off the throttle as i used to do if i was in bad place in bad time. I had to catch Alexey Osipov. Two pit stops remained. Then i made my 3rd and he as well when Victor Sokolov stepped in their car. He was 43seconds clear ahead of me. After the first 4 laps i got that GAP to 38 seconds. In the next 5 laps i was almost 2 seconds quicker per lap. The GAP was 28 seconds. And i did the math, if all okay i am going to catch him before the end of that stint. Then he spun and i was in his rear with 6 laps to go of my stint. I hang there with patience for one lap and then at Stowe we met again before we went down through Vale approaching the Club Corner. Screenshot_2

We were one next to each other through Stowe heading towards the hard braking point for that sharp left corner where i lost the chance of getting the lead almost hour and half ago when, someone, hit me from behind. I’m taking the lead this time.
I am on the inside he is on the outside at Stowe, through Vale as we approach Club Corner I am on the outside he is on the inside. I give him the space he wants. He goes in for it. Brakes late. As he went straight and i said ‘goodbye’ i went inside Club Corner and i was the new leader of the class after hour and half. In the next 3 or 4 laps the GAP between me and him was 17 seconds in my favor. In favor of TR Motorsport. After all those events i mentioned in the start of this text and me driving 3 hours long race all by myself for the first time and chasing these guys without any success for 2 hours and 20 minutes i was in the lead without anyone to challenge us. The only thing left to do was to make the final pit-stop correctly with the right amount of needed fuel as 28 minutes remained till the end of the race. If i had the time to test it instead creating only setup i would have solved it easily! For 4 laps as i was increasing the GAP to 17 seconds i tried to make calculations, how much fuel exactly is wasted per lap. How many laps will be completed in remaining 28 minutes and how much i need exactly to make it to the end, without the risk of filling the tank more than needed so Victor Sokolov would have any slight opportunity to catch me eventually or the risk of filling the tank with lower amount that really needed as i noticed previously fuel for 29 laps meant for 24 only. So the other guy second on charge working in the Academy did it for me. We put the right amount of fuel. Made the stop and Victor Sokolov went in as well. As i was exiting the pitlane Victor Sokolov standing in his garage there on his last pit-stop, and passing him one last time i thought “i will win” and i would have indeed!

I was approaching again the Club Corner. The corner where i almost lost the race in hope to take the lead and the exactly same place where i took the lead 2 hours later. At first cars all around me disappeared and i feared the worst. This below is the latest moment of me in the race, metaphorically. After this very moment, emptiness. Screenshot_3

The worst it was. As if nothing previously said wasn’t enough to prevent me of being competitive the very least or wasn’t enough to make me lose this race, with some 24 minutes to go miraculously i lost internet connection. The hell with all of it!

vettel_out1

Pressed escape as there was no point in driving without connection and went to try and reconnect as fast as i could. But the i3 processor as if didn’t wanted to react when i clicked ‘exit’ from rF2 panel, and the PC froze. No mouse movements. After whole 2 minutes and my desperate actions to cut the process of rF2 through taskbar i started rF2. Logging in. Waiting servers to come up. Selecting it. Putting the password. Entering the server and loading the track, whole 5 minutes i lost in it. I returned on P3 behind Antonio Abreu. And if i would have sounded arrogant by claiming that i would have won the race had not the TV screen shut off and that totally irresponsible driving of few drivers in first place wasn’t felt in my race i would have beyond any doubts with certainty of 289471072% won this race and had done so by a quite big margin!

Returned on track as well and for 4 laps due to connection issues i couldn’t see the GAP of the car in front of me or behind me. But i saw i was behind Antonio Abreu, and knowing where he was i knew everything was over, only this knowledge wasn’t comforting as the same before when i was going for the win only couple of minutes earlier as i was passing by Victor Sokolov through the pitlane.

I’ve always believed that you should never, ever give up and you should always keep fighting even when there’s only a slightest chance. – Michael Schumacher 

In that spirit drove the remaining 12 minutes although at that point everything was 99.9% finished and i didn’t had much more luck than 0.1% today.

Dusko Avramovski

Important timeline moments on the livestream: 
1h32minutes the crash 
1h42 minutes the TV turning off 
3h47 minutes 26 seconds the fight for the lead
4h02 minutes and 11 seconds the connection issue

 

 

 

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