Last Sunday the CFEG community took part in the 4H of Dubai in our first One-Off event of 2019. Several teams manned their sim rigs and virtual machinery for what would be a blistering hot race. The Desert circuit was 35 degrees during qualifying, forcing competitors to open their radiators or risk overheating. The qualifying session was extremely competitive, with several cars setting times within a tenth of a second in some cases. The dye was set as all three classes began the warm-up lap, the safety car peeling into the pit lane to unleash all 30 high spec machines into their 4-hour frenzy.
The teams follow the safety car, ready to begin the race
The LMP2's, led by the Fair Racing Team was the first to reach the start line. Powering down they paved the way for the class as they all piled down into turn 1. D. Buksha in the Bahn Simsport P2 followed closely, eager to prove they can fight for the lead at this early stage of the race. Further back, The sister Fair Racing #99 car came under pressure for Hansa Racing which was in the hands of F.Walter. F. Walter was unable to find a way past however despite maximising his opportunities, slowly falling behind the top three LMP2 teams.
Secora Racing lose control on the entry to T1
In GTE it was a strong start from the #912 Porsche 911 RSR for Bahn Simsport. They were able to keep the competition at bay in the early stages, but a determined G.Bulat in the lone Corvette C7 had other ideas. Pushing the American car to the very limit he took the lead with a classic manoeuvre down the inside line into Turn 10. However, disaster would strike the Secora driver as he spins while entering T1. Dropping down to P5 he would attempt to rejoin the race but would find himself in the path of a Porsche 911 RSR, both colliding causing heavy damage.
Team Simco and Rapid Racing charge ahead of the GT3 field at the early stage
GT3 was also fighting for position at this early stage, with Team Simco leading the pack in their Green and black Mclaren 720s. M.Nizio followed close behind in Rapid Racings BMW M6, not allowing the Mclaren to get more than a second ahead of them. Then came the two Audi R8's from Team Blue Bolt Racing and F1 Bros racing, who was fighting with the Aston Martin GT3 from Fair Racing for the last remaining podium position in the class. A bold move from P.Holt in the Aston would secure 3rd place on lap 3 of the race, demoting the F1 Bro's Racing Audi out of those podium positions.
The LMP2's quickly caught up to the back end of the GT3 pack, bringing forward the Multi-class element to the event. Diving through traffic it was a game of cat and mouse as the leaders tried to minimise the impact of the heavy traffic. Fair Racing, very experienced in this department, was able to slowly but surely extend their lead over Bahn Simsport, but the gap remaining a steady 2-3 seconds as they took turns in finding opportunities in the amongst the traffic.
Fair Racing's Aston Martin Falls back behind the two Audi's
In GT3 P.Holt in this Aston Martin would lose two positions to the chasing Audi R8's of F1 Bros Racing and BlueBolt Racing. The Aston would stabilise in P5 in class for some time but weren't able to reattach themselves onto the back end battle for 3rd in class. The Two Audi's, however, would continue battling, both remaining within a second of one another until the first round of pit stops took place.
F1 Bros Racing fall down the order after engine problems
The LMP2's were the first to come in for more fuel, Bahn Simsport opting for an alternative strategy compared to the other LMP2 teams. For the rest of the race, this would result in an exchange for the overall lead as both teams implemented their tactical manoeuvres throughout the event. GT cars would enter the pits around the hour mark, some saving fuel better than others. It would be a disaster for the F1 Bros racing Audi, after exiting the pit lane they suffer a mechanical issue, not being able to accelerate past the pit lane limiter for at least 2-3 laps, they would eventually resolve the matter after several visits to the pit lane, but their chances to a podium finish had vanished.
Team Simco and Fair Racing make contact at T14
Another team suffering in the first round of stops was the leading Mclaren from Team Simco. They emerged 8 seconds behind the Rapid Racing BMW M6 who had taken the lead in GT3. In the meantime the Audi from BlueBolt Racing was hot on the heels of the Mclaren team, trying to obtain that all-important 2nd place before chasing down the BMW. The Audi would make several attempts to get past, but the Mclaren held the line. However, as they approached the entry to turn 14 the leading LMP2 driven by Cliff made contact with the front left on the 720s. Both were forced wide and off the circuit, allowing the BlueBolt Racing Audi to slip through into 2nd place in GT3.
Bahn Simsport struggle to stay ahead of Fair Racing #99 for 2nd place
D. Buksha was also under pressure in the LMP2 class, as C.Gonzalez was keeping within striking distance in the #99. The Bahn Simsport machine has suffered from damage (Steering pulling to the left), which allowed the 3rd place car to catch up. D. Buksha wasn't giving up the position easily though. Every opportunity was met with aggressive but fair defending, followed by a flurry of quick lap times to ensure 2nd place was secure for his team. A truly spectacular performance in what must have been a difficult car to drive.
The Desert night descended on the teams. 1 1/2 hours left in the race. As the track temperature dropped, the heat in the race rose drastically. In GT3 the defending leaders from Rapid Racing were under pressure from the BlueBolt Racing Audi R8. Hot on their heels they made their presence known to T.Hakkinen, who had taken control of the BMW M6 from his team-mate. The BMW was also the only car in class to take the medium compound tires as they tried to implement a tactical approach to the event. This did however mean that the competition around them could catch up and challenge for the position, the colder temperatures suiting the softer tires.
Team Simco and BlueBolt Racing go wheel-to-wheel
As the battle unfolded, a third player came into the grey, the Mclaren 720s from Team Simco, now driven by T.Cseh was closing the gap rapidly as the leaders battled. The duo would dance on the desert surface, illuminating the track with their headlights as they try to gain an advantage over one another. The first to make a move would be Team Simco, the Audi from BlueBolt Racing running wide on the exit of turn 9. The two would drag race down towards T10 with the Audi on the inside line, the Audi holding the 2nd place on the run down to the second sector. LMP2 cars entered the battle, trying to pass the battling GT's as quickly as possible. Team Simco would see an opportunity left open by one of these cars, swooping onto the inside line at T14. The Audi, defenceless and unable to respond.
BlueBolt Racing take 2nd from Rapid Racing
It still was not over, as Team Simco quickly caught the BMW M6 of Rapid Racing. Despite their valiant efforts, those medium compound tires were simply not good enough to compete in these colder track conditions. Going two wide for several corners the two would exchange the lead in class, the Audi still close behind and looking to move forward. The Mclaren runs the outside on the entry to Turn 12, undercutting the BMW to drive into the distance as they accelerated down towards sector 3. Now demoted to 2nd place, T.Hakkinen now had the Audi right on his rear bumper. further action would ensue as they went two wide into turn 1, then 2, followed by 3. The BlueBolt Racing Audi would gain the advantage after holding the inside line, demoting the BMW into the last remaining podium position.
Bahn Simsport Enter a Civil War for 3rd place in GTE
As the end of the race approached the GTE cars would fight for position. Bahn Simsport, who had entered several cars in the form of Porsche GTE's would now fight for 3rd. The #912 who had been leading at the start had run into issues and was now in a bitter fight for survival in the last stint of the race. L.Lichten gave chase, setting the defending team up for an undercut similar to what we saw with the GT3's. Taking the outside line to T12 L.Lichten would swoop down onto the apex, getting that essential drive out of the corner to secure 3rd place. The battle would rage on for another 5-10 minutes, but the #912 was not able to respond or go wheel-to-wheel past this point.
Fair Racing take the LMP2 win at Dubai!
It was a dominant performance from the Fair Racing team in the LMP2 field. Damage slowed the competition from Bahn Simsport, allowing them to drive across the line with a safe margin. In 2nd Bahn Simsport had helf off the second Fair Racing Lmp2 machine, a great battle despite suffering damage to the steering rack and suspension.
Shell'My Racing come home for the GTE win
In GTE is was the #911 from Shell'My Racing who took victory at the chequered flag, though the competitors quickly noted that they had not conducted any driver changes during the event, a breach of the rules and regulations for the race. No results have yet been published so no verdict from officials has been announced.
Team Simco Take the GT3 win after a tough battle!
In GT3, after an astonishing battle between the top three teams, it would be Team Simco in their green Mclaren 720s who would take the chequered for their class. Tired after endless infield fighting, they took victory in their debut performance at CFEG.
Dubai once again delivered the goods for the CFEG community. From start to finish it created wheel-to-wheel action across the board with teams putting everything on the line to stay ahead of the competition. We saw alternating tactics, battles taking place in pit lane as well as out on track. This is what endurance multi-class racing is all about. It is a series of sprint races between refuelling and tire changes. It is simply, the best form of motorsport in both the real and virtual world.
Official results will be posted soon:
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