CFEG's first ever 12 hour event finally arrived on the 19th May last Saturday. Visiting the legendary circuit of Le Mans, it demonstrated the dedication and enjoyment the community has when it comes to endurance multiclass racing. This was a race to remember and we received some great feedback from all those who participated.
Of course when we was organizing our first event over 6 hours long, we just had to visit this circuit for our first true taste of endurance racing. Teams experienced a full 24h cycle with weather on x2 acceleration, creating an experience they will not forget anytime soon.
Watch the live stream of the race @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYLWyKeg0PQ
the field lines up behind the safety car, eager to begin the race
But what about the race? All three classes lined up behind the safety car in what must have been the most nerve racking warm up lap in virtual history. The corvette safety car thought it funny to go just under 10kph (or so it seemed) for the duration of the lap, with the two Black Hawk Racing LMP2's being the first of the teams to line up behind its white rear bumper.
Eager to get underway, the teams lined up side by side as they approached the start finish line which outlined the start of the event. A steady speed followed by a burst of energy and noise as one by one the classes crossed the starting line. Some drivers went on the attack, taking advantage of the tight and compact traffic. Others played conservatively, staying clear and getting pace without taking risks.
the #07 spins out at the Dunlop Chicane
The LMP2 field was the first to get underway, with the #06 Black Hawk Racing car emerging at the front, followed closely by the #44 of Sikania Endurance. Other positions were exchanged with P.Holt for Fair racing taking P7 in class from Alusimium Racing. Action continued down the Mulsanne as the #07 Black Hawk car made its way into 2nd in class after turning their engine mode to maximum. But it was short lived, as they take too much kerbing on the re-entry to the Dunlop chicane, resulting in the rear of the car coming around and sending them towards the barrier. Clouds of smoke appeared from the overburdened tires, with flatspots emerging on what were brand new "shoes". The tradeoff appeared to be worth it however, as the #07 narrowly avoided going into the barrier, coming to a rest just before the gravel trap.
The #77 leads the lmp3 field towards Chapel
In LMP3, it was the Poland Sim racing #77 who led the pack. Triple S racing #18 was in hot pursuit, with Team RSI, Push Rod racing and pretty much the entire grid getting in on the early race action. The grid was tightly packed as they made their way down the Mulsanne Straight for the first time, with Team RSI making the first move down into the Second Chicane for 2nd in class! Further battles ensued further down the order, with each team refusing to let up ground without a fight. Truly was great racing in what was thought to be a class that would fail to impress, what a understatement that was.
Further down the circuit and creating allot of noise were the GTE's, a collection of Corvette's, Aston martins with a sprinkle of Ferrari and a lone Porsche all roared their way around the French circuit. Poland Sim Racing's #57 Corvette left the pack, with the #89 Aston Martin following with several others attached closely behind. Some fighting would occur between the #98 and #99 Astom martins driven by L.Oliver and J.Dalton, but all was fairly relaxed in the first lap of the race.
Viper Racing stationary after running out of fuel following Rfactor2's issues surrounding penalties
Within the first hour a few casualties began to mount. With the likes of the #69 Porsche and the #31 Viper racing LMP3 coming to a halt on the Mulsanne straight after running out of fuel due to penalty issues. Further into the race the leading #07 Black Hawk Racing car would lose its rear left wheel on the exit of Tertre Rouge. The car was sent spinning several times, luckily avoiding traffic that was going past at the time. This allowed several of the other teams, including the sister #06 car, to take the lead of the race. The #07 had a slow journey back to the pit lane, where it would be able to continue and fight back up the order.
Two LMP2's make their way around the Porsche Curves during Dusk Hours
As night descended the pure beauty of Le Mans became apparent, the orange glow from the sunset reflected off the surface, creating a golden glow around the track. Drivers said it was difficult to drive in, with some even saying they could barely see the apex of the corners when driving into the sunlight.
During the hours of night it was the #21 and #8 cars of ANBU and Alusimium Racing who went toe-to-toe in the LMP2 Category. The cars were evenly matched for several laps, diving in and out of traffic. The two teams exchanged positions spanning over several laps, using each others slip streams and the traffic to their advantage. In the end it would be the #08 who took the position going into darkness after the #21 got stuck behind the #99 OMG Racing Aston Martin.
Team RSI and Triple S Racing go toe-to-toe during the Night
Further battles ensued in the LMP3 field, with Schubert motorsport, Push Rod Racing and Alusimium racing all within a few seconds of one another, Further up the order Team RSI and the #18 Triple S Racing car exchanged positions during pit stops. While the #77 Poland Sim Racing car led the field by a comfortable margin.
The graveyard shift gave some teams the opportunity to close down the opponents. In LMP3 it would be D.Jundt for Schubert Motorsport who took the lead of the class after driving for 8 hours straight. The #77 Poland Simracing car ran into issues, resulting in a DNF after what was a very strong performance. Later during the night Team RSI, driven by T.Urbinati would make significant ground against the Schubert driven of B.Dollar. Just a few moments before sunrise, the RSI car went around the outside of Chapel in a daring move, taking the lead of LMP3 with several hours to go.
Team RSI take the lead of LMP3 from #17 Schubert Motorsport Car during the Night
Another surprise return was the #98 Aston Martin GB team, who had suffered a loss of time at the very start of the race. A good recovery drive and keeping their car out of trouble meant they was able to take away 3rd place from the push rod racing car, who themselves had run into issues in the later stages of the event. Still leading the way in GTE was the x2 Poland Simracing cars. With the #98 Aston Martin taking the helm, with the #57 C7 behind by half a lap.
Further back luck would strike the #17 Schubert LMP3, as it gets the entry to Indianapolis wrong, sending it into the gravel trap, allowing the #18 Triple S Racing team into 2nd in class. It was not all bad news however. In LMP2 the #9 Schubert car was on a great recovery drive after having some bad luck earlier in the Race. Holding onto P4, the team went racing against the #44 of Sikania Endurance for third in class, while the two Black Hawk Racing cars led the race overall by at least 1 lap compared to the rest of the field.
#44 Sikania Endurance Team Vs #09 Schubert Motorsport at the Porche Curves
After racing closely, the #44 would receive a Drive through for exceeding track limits at the last of the Ford Chicanes. But this was just a small delay for the team, they fought back with tooth and claw, attaching themselves to the back of the Schubert LMP2 car. With just 15 minutes remaining, they gave it everything they had. Both teams began to take more and more risks with traffic and the course limits. Neither able to take advantage or get away. However, Despite their best efforts they would run into issues in the last few moments of the event. The #44 gets it wrong going into the first of the Ford Chicanes. Sending them off track with them facing the wrong way when they came to a rest.
The #44 Spins out after hitting the Kerbs at the Ford Chicane
This meant the #09 Schubert Car could finish in 3rd with a comfortable gap to the Sikania endurance car. With the team erupting in chat with joy at the sight of their opposition losing control. This then, is why we love endurance racing. Its a journey over the course of several hours of concentration, dedication and passion all boiled into one. Watching your team-mates go through hell for 2-3 hours (and in some cases 9 hours..), hoping that they are able to survive the storm to take the car home in a decent position, before you yourself have to endure the same experience.
Its about fighting till the very last lap no matter where you end up during the rest of the race. Its full of emotion, ups and downs as you run into issues, but then fight your way back up the order. In no other form of motorsport can you experience this. In no other form of motorsport are you given the chance to fight back after making an error. This is why we love Endurance Racing here at CFEG and judging by the feedback from the teams that Saturday night, so do they.
This race was absolutely spectacular, and I can't wait to do it all again.
Keep an eye out this website and our Discord for future events this summer.
Thanks for reading.