Earlier this month I had an opportunity to participate in a proper endurance race, the Foracer 24 Hours of Nürburgring. When Martti Pietilä from Foracer Ajira approached me to see if I would be interested in filling in a spot in one of the teams, I didn’t need to think twice and it was only couple days later when I started to think what have I got myself into. Longest races I’ve done in the past were probably around 3-4 hours and even those were tough, so it was going to be a challenge like no other. Even itself took part at Kankaanpää, Finland and the equipment where brought in by manufacturers and teams themselves. Most of the rigs and the one I was using were from Foracer, we also had two rigs from X-R’cer and two from RS2Sim who’s second rig featured interesting hand operated throttle and brake levers on the steering wheel, making it accessible for handicapped drivers as well. Also worth mentioning Team Meatfactory’s very unique looking rig that was built into a chassis of an old Peugeot 106.
Event itself got off to a rough start due to various technical difficulties but aside from the broken internet connection which prevented the broadcasting, things eventually got sorted out and we were in for some great racing after short red-flag period and restart at 3-4 hours into the race. Our team decided early on that we were going to do single-stints during the daytime and double-stint at night so there would be enough time to get some sleep, or at least that’s how it should have worked in theory but it’s hard to unwind and rest while you know the race is still going on and you’re worried about the fuel strategy. I remember getting in just after midnight for my double stint and had to fight hard for first few laps just to keep my eyes open and kept reminding myself to keep blinking during the straights or I wasn’t going to be able to see the corners ahead, not that it really mattered at that point because by then you’ve already memorized the whole track. Eventually the morning came and we were fortunate to not have any issues with our Foracer #1 car, pace was decent but not enough to challenge the front runners. We managed to come home 7th despite having to do one extra pitstop at the end to not run out of fuel, would have liked to finish little bit higher but it was enough to win the constructor’s trophy for our team with the #2 car securing the first place. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to participate again next year, despite how exhausted I was, it was still really fun all the way through.
If you ever get a chance to take part in a event like this, do it. I can safely say that even if I went into it thinking I must be nuts for doing this, it was completely worth it. I suppose you need to be little bit of crazy to do something like this but the great thing is that everyone participating in something like is just as crazy as you are and loves racing, so you’re probably going to get along just fine no matter what kind of racing background you have (sim or real).
As final words, I’d like to thank my team for making it a great experience and Foracer for inviting me over. Thanks to Matti from X-R’cer for letting me have a go at some rally driving in his simulator and confirming that I’m terrible at it, but the seat was so comfortable that I didn’t mind crashing. Also thanks to Mikko Korpela for keeping us well fed and a special shout-out to Lutz Enger who flew all the way to Finland and stuck with us to the end despite not being able to do the broadcast and having to deal with our constant questions about rules, that’s some dedication right there. Hopefully the next year’s event will be even bigger and the lessons learned should make the next one better.
Videos from the event: