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Race Wrap - iRacing Daytona 24 2018

This weekend's iRacing 24 Hours of Daytona marked the first big event for Fusion SimRacing in our new Amazon Web Services colour scheme, and with our compatriots - Evolution Racing Team, Performance Sim Sports, Pro Force Racing, TTL eSports, All Star Motorsports and Synergy Sim Racing among many others - the Australian representation at this year's race was incredible, and we were all looking to make our mark.

Race preparations went well, with the team fielding two GTEs on race night: a Ferrari 488, piloted by Craig Edwards, Alex Bird, Scott Stephens, Trent Thomas and Josh Burdon; and a Ford GT, assigned to Colin Schwecke, Rhys Gardiner, Warren Pickering and our newest member, Blake Neck. The stakes were extremely high for this event, and marking the increase in competition, the iRating cutoff for top split was in excess of 6400. FSR was hoping to at least get both cars in the same split, but it was not to be - the Ferrari was sorted into the third split, and the Ford into the fourth. Both cars were to start ninth in their respective splits.

Unfortunately, as has seemingly become the norm with iRacing's big events, server issues arose, and almost the whole field suffered connection problems in the Ferrari's split as the race was starting. Alex was meant to be starting the car, but was booted as the grid was forming - Craig eventually brought the GTE out from pit lane two laps down on the class leader. The Ford's split did not have any such issues, and Blake began the race.

The Ferrari gradually clawed back overall positions as the race wore on, while by the 2 hour 30 minute mark, the Ford made its way up to P2 in class before being knocked back to P4 via contact with a GT3. Rhys took over the Ford from Blake, who had worked the car into P3, and began chasing down the second-placed Torque Freak Racing car. Unfortunately, it was towards the end of Rhys' first stint that the Ford's race came to a frustrating end. Upon negotiating the Bus Stop chicane, a spun GT3 re-entered the track at 90 degrees to the racing line, right in front of Rhys. Heavy contact resulted in a total of 25 minutes of repairs - and the car remained damaged thereafter, almost 20km/h down on straight line speed and two seconds a lap off the pace. The Ford was pulled into the garage five hours into the race, and would only be brought out twice more - first by Colin, and then by Blake, to eventually classify the car 14th in class and 48th overall.

Soldiering on in third split, the Ferrari crew battled traffic both in front and behind to work their way up. Scott, having to cover for Craig, faced a few hardware issues - a brief loss of full throttle and the pit limiter getting stuck on hampered the Ferrari's progress somewhat, but the car continued its slow upwards fight after the issues were resolved. Craig suffered some slight battle damage when a car spun into him in the morning hours, but the crew moved between 5th and 7th position in class through the mid-race. When Josh and Trent fulfilled their driving duties, the car was in a stable 6th place, and remained there when Scott and then Craig took over for the final hours. 

But internet issues brought the race into jeopardy once again. First Scott's home internet failed completely, forcing Craig to take back over and Scott to use his phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Then, Craig was booted due to a server-side issue, meaning that Scott had to jump back in with mere minutes to go in the race. The Ferrari lost its place in class, and had to settle for 7th - 17th overall - at the very end.

A race of what could have been, for sure. But we came away with the assurance that we have the pace and consistency to be fighting for top positions in these iRacing special events, and our next races are back in familiar territory for us. The AMF GT3 Development Series, the Red Pepper Racing Sports Car Series and the Oceanic Sprint and Endurance Championships await!

A huge thanks to our sponsors and supporters:

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See you on the track.

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