September 8th 2012 would be 1 of the busier simracing days in Satellites relatively short history. !st on deck was the opening round of the 5th season in the VLMS-ERL series with 6 hours at Laguna Seca. With 3 cars entered in the 2 classes we came into California expecting to be right at the top rolling off the truck. We were close time wise but luck was not to be on our side in qualifying. The #11 Audi R8 GT of Matt Strand and TJ Halsema qualified down in 14th in GT after an engine failure on the out lap. The #32 Porsche RS Spyder of Nick Rowland, Mike Smulcheski, and Kevin Brents had a much better go in Q as they qualified 3rd overall and the #64 of Jeff Cable and Ryan Walker 9th.
The race got underway and Nick Rowland quickly ran into problems when he had a disgareement with a GT car in the opening laps. The #32 had lost 3 laps in the exchange and getting repaired but was back underway. Meanwhile the #11 and #64 cars we’re both clicking off great laps. Strand had moved the Audi up to 3rd in GT and Ryan Walker had moved up to 3rd in LMP2. TJ soon took over from Strand in the Audi and spun the tires just a bit on pit out which he then clipped the wall. The contact damaged the suspension (and what we later found out the differential) enough that TJ had a hard time just keeping the car pointed straight. After a few laps the series had to throw TJ the meatball and bring it in. Once looked over further the car was retired due to the damage sustained.
The #32 car continued its remarkable drive back forward. Nick, Mike, and Kevin all drove an incident free and blistering race after the opening incident Nick had. With a couple of lucky full course yellows late in the event, the 32 team found themselves in 2nd and Kevin chasing down the leader fast but ran out of time. The #64 was having a clean race until Jeff and a GT Corvette came together at the top of the corkscrew which resulted in both cars retiring. The subsequent yellow actually aided in securing 2nd for the 32 car as well which was both lucky and unlucky for us. The 3 cars finished in 2nd, 9th and 29th overall.
We were pleased with the drives back forward from both prototype cars but the day was far from over for the simracing guys. About halfway into the 6 hour event at VLMS, the Sim-Racing.org 24 hours of Spa had begun with 2 Satellite Audi R8 GT3s entered.
The Sim-Racing.org GT3 series is 1 of the highest caliber of sim racing talent around. Satellite has always been fortunate enough to be towards the head of every race we ran in but in the newly formed GT3 series, we only qualified in 21st and 31st for the 24 hour event. Not flustered by the Q pace though as the long race would prove to be a trial in survival for us. It was our first full 24 hour race we’d done as a team.
The inexperience with the longer race and new cars showed as everybody struggled to come to grips with the cars, track, longevity and raw pace of the others around. Brendan Kaczmerack in the lead Audi for the team managed to get into a rythm during the night and moved the 164 car up as high as 14th but that would be the highest we would get all race long.
After 24 hours of racing at Spa we managed to bring the 2 Audi’s home. An achievement in itself and we’re happy to have finished our first 24 hour race. The results however were far from what we strive for coming home in 18th and 24th. While both cars did move forward as expected through atrittion and some speed made up from Q to race pace, it is not the results we’re accustomed to or enjoy at Satellite so we’ll be reviewing the race in huge detail to improve the results through out the series.
all in all though we ran 30 hours worth of racing in 1 weekend. A huge achievement for the team as we were spread quite thin but happy with what we managed to achieve under the circumstances.
Next up we go back to the real world and the Formula 600 car in Savannah Georgia for the SARRC runoff at Roebling Road Raceway. The 24 lap sprint race will run October 7th. As always stay tuned for more, we’re always racing something somewhere!