For the first time in season 5 of the VLMS-ERL season we can call ourselves winners. It wasn’t easy and coming into our home race on the schedule we knew we had to make something happen. Coming into the event we picked up 2 new sponsors in the form of SimInk and Track 9 Media. SimInk made a splash of color on the current points leading #64 car of Walker, Cable, and Stekky. Track 9 would come on for our new P2 entry of Klaus Kaag and Jesper Bayer. All 3 cars came off the trailer in perfect shape for the central Florida “winter” weather.
Qualifying went well with Kevin Brents putting the #32 car in 2nd place on the grid. The #64 driven by Walker qualified in 7th while the #88 car of Kaag and Bayer had an electrical fire and the car had to be withdrawn from the event. The plan for both cars was to avoid the mess the first few hours with the heavy traffic and wait for attrition to thin out the track before pushing.
The first few hours saw Strand fall down 1 spot to 3rd as the 32 team just went methodically about their business. The 64 car with Walker behind the wheel though was unfortunately taken out by a more then errant Brendan Kaczmerack in the R4R Pescarolo in turn 17 which set the SimInk car back 3 laps far to early in the event. When Walker got out of the car he had to be restrained from going into the R4R pit. He was especially angry as the R4R car was the nearest championship competitor and it was pretty clear what their intention was since they had been set back a lap early on from their own issues.
Coming into the later hours and the attrition starting to set in the #32 car soon found itself with a 2 lap lead over 2nd place. Mike Smulcheski got in the car and ran to a set pace to make fuel mileage and set our selves up for the end, just incase. A series of full course cautions gave back a lap and a half to the now recovering R4R car but the team just continued on with their fuel numbers with Mike in the car. We had R4Rs pitstops calculated down and they’d need to do a full stop more then us. At 1 point while Mike was handing back over to Brents for the final stint the R4R car took the lead. Still we weren’t phased knowing the strategies and Kevin regained the lead 11 laps later when they came in for their stop.
What we didn’t expect however was for Brents to get severly ill while driving in his final stint. With the pitstop advantage we had shuffled back out to a 1 lap lead over the chasing R4R car but Kevin became worse and worse and at 1 point lost concentration. The car smacked the barrier hard and he came in and jumped straight out. Strand jumped in for the final 30 minutes of the race to try and cling to their quickly dwindling lead. The car was not completely fixed however and Strand was stuck in 4th gear. He eventually was able to kick the car out of 4th (literally) and went about getting back up to speed for the final run.
In the end Strand was able to hold on to a slim 7 second victory over the charging over the R4R car. With the actions earlier in the race the #64 and 88 teams both withdrew from the series due to a lack of interest stemming from the stewards actions both in the race and after. The #32 Simcraft car however would continue on for the rest of the season with next up for the series going to Interlagos for 6 hours in Brazil. Before that however is 24 hours of fun just slightly east of Sebring. The Sim-Racing.org 24 hours of Daytona is coming up with both Satellite GT3 Audi’s running.