28 of us went to the track, 12 of us were knocked out, and last Sunday 16 of us faced off in a final showdown to decide who would take home the prizes. All of this brought to you in association with the lovely folks from Elgato Gaming, creators of the Game Capture HD box, and Insert Coin Clothing, makers of many a t-shirt and hoodie based on popular game franchises.
With such a big race, it’s a much larger task than usual, so there’s no commentated video for this post. I thought it best to get this out earlier than usual, and we’ll have a separate post for the videos at a later date.
For now you’ll have my written report, but head over to page 2 to see some of the onboard videos which people have uploaded.
Suzuka’s a notoriously challenging track, and combined with this being a 50% race, this was going to be over an hour of solid F1 driving all the way down the field.
Starting up with a 15 minute qualifying session, it was easy to see that the usual suspects would be getting to the front. The Sunday group’s regular trio of Lee-ma, Tomjakes and CarBoyCam were right up there, with myself and AshGraham making up the rest of the top 5 early on. Quite a few people were staying out to get multiple hot laps out of their tyres, with Manorhowze and Sitorimon as notable examples, but these didn’t seem to be breaking into the higher echelons so it finished almost exactly as it started.
Lee-ma finished on pole with Tomjakes alongside him. CBC jumped past Ash at the last moment to take 3rd, with myself in 5th. Sitorimon was 6th, Ro6afc11 7th and heading further back we had DimJim, Manorhowze, THLNetwork, Camdaz, Stanley1664, Heedbaw, Chuggy, Keaneplay and Death_in_Flamez.
Right off the line, Lee-ma swept across the track to block off Tom into turn one, whilst I got a little closer to the back of CBC, but couldn’t do anything with my tiny speed advantage.
As so often happens things went a little pear shaped, with CBC running wide through turn one, and I had to take avoiding action and bop him on his front right wheel to help straighten him out. The loss of speed meant that I was then down in 8th, on the inside of Manorhowze into the ’S’, and with a tiny bit of sliding we both span out. In the following carnage Chuggy lost his front wing, Camdaz and I came together, and half the field seemed to have to limp around and get themselves back on track.
Despite the lost time it still seemed to be pretty tightly packed on track, with people scrabbling for positions all the way up the field. Lots of little errors crept in, such as Ro6afc11 following Dimjim just a shade too closely into the chicane, or the similar treatment THL gave to Rob a lap later. With the tight battling and minor errors losing those involved a little time, this played back into the hands of those recovering from the first few turns, as CBC, Manorhowze, Stanley and myself charged down the track, nicking places here and there.
However, after just 4 laps of hard racing on top of long qualifying stints, Manor’s tyres were shot. He was holding up Stanley, which let me get a good run and pass him into Spoon. Then I was suddenly onto the back of Manor and had to lift into 130R to avoid contact, letting Stanley get right up behind me into the chicane, before we both went into a seemingly contactless synchronised spin! Jim slipped back through, and Manor ducked into the pits, coming back out ahead of me! It took me a while to point the right way again.
The early pit window was now open, but with rain not set to appear for a good while longer, many were sticking to old and worn tyres for as long as possible. Of the leading pair, it was Tom who bit the bullet first and ducked in on lap 9, whilst Lee put in a couple extra big laps before popping in on lap 11. He rejoined in the lead, with the gap hovering at just a few seconds all along.
A few stayed out longer whilst waiting for the weather to turn, and Keaneplay had gone on a single long stint on Prime tyres. He’d tailed Rob until his stop, and was then battling with Ash following his. Disaster struck when Keane and Ash came together and lost a good chunk of time. Similarly, Chuggy and THL had a coming together just before the rain arrived, losing places to chasers and all important grip in their aging tyres!
It was around lap 16 when the first drizzle of rain arrived at the Spoon end of the track. Naturally the trick was to judge the stop just right, especially with the pit straight still rain free, but for me it was clear that a spin on Lap 18 at Spoon which lost me my advantage over Chuggy, it was time to box. Then I slid right off the track at turn one and had yet more places to make up!
The track came back to the early stoppers like myself and Keane, but conditions were getting worse very quickly. Not quickly enough for Ash, mind you, who had jumped right over to the full Wet tyres, and had a torrid time of it on track before a internet error booted him from the race!
For those on Inters, lap 24 was very difficult to drive, and most pitted for Wet tyres at this point. Disaster befell DiF, mistakenly coming back out on another set of Inters, whilst for the top three Lee and CBC felt there was enough grip to go a lap longer.
They were both wrong, and Tomjakes on full Wet tyres easily chased down and passed Lee in less than a lap! Manorhowze was up in 4th at this time, and similarly started to get just a little bit close to CBC!
However, Manor couldn’t make any real move on CBC, and in the end not a lot changed on the last few laps. After a particularly tricky and gruelling race everyone was far too spread out for last lap heroics, not to mention tip toeing around in the treacherous conditions!
So with a healthy lead, Tomjakes becomes our new champion! Lee-ma was in 2nd, failing to hold onto his title, whilst CarBoyCam finished off the podium in 3rd. Manorhowze was in a great 4th place and DimJim put together an excellent and consistent drive to come 5th.
The finishing positions for the field were:
- AshGraham – DNF
- Stanley – DNF
With all the racing was done and dusted, we turned out attention to the Driver’s Choice Award. A simple poll, where everyone voted to pick someone they felt was worthy of recognition for one reason or another. It was a close cut thing, with so many people who I felt could have won. As it turns out everyone else felt the same way, with Manorhowze, Dimjim, Sitorimon and Keaneplay all tied in 2nd place. However, it was Ro6afc11 who had the most votes this year, so he takes home the DCA!
Congratulations are in order all around, really. I think that almost everyone has come out of the championship having enjoyed the racing, and that’s the main thing.
Right… Same time next year?