NEO kicks off with a heartbreaker in the final minutes
It´s saturday afternoon, the first qualifying in the NEO Endurance Series this season. The biggest and most competetive multiclass and endurance series in iRacing is starting. Everybody is hyped… after lots of hours sweating and practicing… the season finally begins.
The GT3s in the GTS class were the first cars to join the track surface in Sebring. Our GT3 Audi R8 LMS was driven by Patrick P.. It was a really close qualifying in the GT3 class with the PRT GT3 doing the fourth fastest lap with only 0.028 behind the pole, driven by CoRe SimRacing GTS.
The GT1 class was next. Andreas D. was behind the wheel of our GT1 car, struggling to find qualifying pace and only doing the 12th fastest lap with about 8 tenths begind the pole setter.
Finally it was time for the Prototypes to exit the pit lane and starting their qualifying. With our fastest driver Maximilian B., the PRT LMP White was driving the fastest lap with a brilliant 1:45.908 only 0.016 secons in front of the new World Champion in F1, Martin Krönke of VRS Coanda Simsport. Our second car in this class, the PRT LMP Black was also looking strong, setting the 6th fastest time in a very strong Prototype field. After such a strong team performance in qualifying the whole team was really optimistic for the race. Looking to race for the win in both, the Prototype and GTS class, and trying to improve their postion in GT1 class with a very solid race setup.
16 PM, sunday afternoon, green lights. With Maximilian B. of the PRT LMP White having a good start, our PRT LMP Black was gaining a position in the first corners, improving into 5th position. Meanwhile our GT1 and GTS cars were very patient in the beginning, trying to take as less risk as possible. Their strategy was to gain positions time by time with consistency and saving fuel behind the cars in front, knowing to pass them with strategy and then pulling away with their strong race speed. PRT LMP White was pulling away from VRS Coanda lap by lap, while PRT LMP Black was staying in touch with the last podium spot. After 5 stints of driving the hell out of his car, Max B. did his driver swap and Mert U. was taking over. In the PRT LMP black, Patrick W., Tom V. and Lennart R. did a good job, trying to stay in the Top 5 for the entire race, looking for the last spot on the podium.
In the GT1 class, Andreas D. and Peter K. were driving very consistent laps. Sadly, they got turned around twice in this race, but it didn´t held them up to improve their position lap by lap. Meanwhile, in the GTS class, Patrick P. and Maximilian W. took over the lead with their strategy. Gaining positions in the pits kept them away from fighting with their oppononts on the track. With only 20 minutes left in the race, everything was looking good for PRT LMP White. Mert U. was driving patient and solid laps to manage their gap versus a strong performing Team Chimera HPD. But then…. the heartbraker comes in place, a spinning Corvette in front of Mert U. HPD ruined the race for our LMP White. Losing about 10 seconds with the contact and spin, the team was optimistic, being about 20 seconds in front of Chimera with only 9 laps left. But after the first long straight and the upcoming lap time they realized that the win will be taken away from them in the final seconds. Their HPD was 3 seconds off, missing about 17 km/h of topspeed…. Team Chimera was closing in rapidly, with the CoRe SimRacing HPD and our LMP Black following in a very exciting battle for the last step on the podium.
With 3 laps left in the race it was over… the LMP White got passed by Jack Keithley of Team Chimera. Meanwhile, Patrick W. overtook the CoRe HPD with a brave move, taking over 3rd. One lap after Team Chimera has passed the LMP White… our sister car and Team CoRe also passed our LMP White.
The race is over… Team Chimera won the first race of the NES season here at Sebring, followed by our PRT LMP Black in second position. Team CoRE SimRacing completed the podium. After leading 165 of 193 laps the PRT LMP White finished in 4th. It was a really frustrating moment for the drivers of our PRT LMP White. Our GT1 car climbed up 4 positions in the race and finished in 7th position. That´s a good result in fact they only started in 12th and got turned around twice. In the GTS class, Patrick P. and Maximilian W. took the first win of a PRT car in NEO history. Overall the entire team showed that they can perform well versus the best racing teams in iRacing.
Watch the full race here (broadcasted by RacespotTV on iRacingLive):
For results take a look at the NEO Endurance Webpage here:
NEO Endurance Series | 6 hours of Sebring