Time flies when you’re having fun and despite the fact that last weekend’s 2.4 Hours of Daytona is the single longest race I’ve ever completed, it felt like one of the shortest. For someone who’s used to running short 45min races, doing it for 2 hours and 40 minutes non-stop sounds a bit daunting and it has put me off from participating in the previous years. But if you decided to skip this race, you missed out on some great racing and an experience that is completely different from regular sprint-races.
Thigs didn’t start out too well as race had to be delayed by one hour due to iRacing servers being attacked just few minutes before the race was supposed to go live. This certainly didn’t help me one bit because that meant it was already 22:20 when race went green and it would be well into Sunday before I would see the checkered flag, assuming I would make it all the way through. Fortunately, my mood was then brightened by the fact that the qualify time was just good enough to put me to the back-row of second split. If you want to have clean, relaxing first few laps, you want to be either first or last and I can bet my teammate Lee Thompson wasn’t feeling relaxed at all having to start from the middle of the pack.
When the lights eventually went green, the race got rolling pretty cleanly, there were couple early spinners but having the benefit of being able to observe it all from a distance, I made it through without a scratch and settled in for the long haul. Had fun running with Matthias Reuner early on but he was having bit more luck with the Daytona Prototypes and after being lapped couple times, I lost the draft and couldn’t keep up. Came in for my first pitstop at 55 minutes in and that’s roughly the race-length I’m used to in my regular series. Now I just had time for little bit of stretching and a quick drink before car was filled up and ready to go again, at that moment it really started to sink in that this might take a while. Second and third stint went smoothly apart from couple close-calls with faster cars, I had kept a consistent pace and my fuel strategy was spot on. After starting 42nd out of 43 cars, after last round of pitstops I was now 22nd overall and 7th or 8th in my class. Most of the hotheads had retired by now and there was bit more room for racing, which resulted in some good late-race battles with others who had made it this far. Managed to secure a respectable 9th place amongst a very competitive field of McLarens and it was nice to see some familiar faces getting good results as well, apart from Lee who unfortunately had to retire his Daytona Prototype due to an engine failure.
Sure there were little bit of rubbing here and there along with the usual stuff you have to deal with in mixed-class race, but overall it was a fun event to participate in and I’m looking forward to doing it again next year. Even if you’re not fighting for the win, when you come onto the main-straight and see the checkered flag waving, that’s a small victory in itself.