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I was pretty excited for this race. I even practiced a little bit before the event – on the wrong track. I confused Putnam and Poznan. But hey, at least I won’t go into Poznan blind. ;)

So, contrary to what I intended, I went into the league practice session without any practice. Thankfully the track was pretty easy to get the basics, with only a couple of slower speed turns catching me out.

By the end of practice I felt quite comfortable, then in qualifying got in a decent time of 1:08:00 compared to the Pole time of 1:07:00. I felt I left a bit of time on the table during qualifying, I’d also suffered a bit with traffic (faster cars behind me), but expected this to be a high attrition race track, so was happy to start 8th.

At the start of the race I got a flier, and quickly saw there was an incident on the left side. I decided to try to maintain maximum speed and hope I would miss the carnage but unfortunately, I didn’t… The result was me facing the wrong way in the pit exit. I got going again and caught up to the pack under a full course yellow.

My restart was good from 8th, but I got held up into turn one when Nils Jordan braked way harder than I ever would have expected. It put me a little on edge, I came close to hitting him under the caution before that, and I was wary of getting too close until I had followed enough to be able to judge his speed.

As I followed Jordan, the guys behind were all over me, and two of them passed me, dropping me to 10th by lap 6. A lap later, Ray Woolhead slid off the track in the RAF Benevolent Fund “Hurricane” that carries my grandfather’s name, gifting me 9th. Matt Palla also dropped behind me, moving me up to 8th. I finally managed to slip by Jordan on the outside into turn 1 the following lap, giving me 7th-place.

By lap 13 the track had started to feel a little lonely. I saw one car spun out in the final turn, another retired in the pits, that gave me 5th, but I didn’t really see anyone else until I started to close in on Dennis Zimmerman in the closing laps.

This is a tough track to pass on. During all of the race, qualifying and practice I hadn’t found anywhere I felt ‘safe’ passing. When I eventually got close enough to Dennis to pass, I got too close and spun him out. My intention was to get close in that turn, then try to pass him into the slowest corner on the track which followed, but we didn’t make it there.

My immediate thought was that it was obviously my fault. I knew nobody else was really close behind us, so I did the gentlemanly thing and stopped to let him regain his position. We then finished out the lap, and I took 5th-place.

Fin Sta Driver Interval Led Fast Lap
1 1 Joern Hoormann 30 laps 28 1:07:897
2 5 Stefan Mizzi +13.512 0 1:08:873
3 3 Christian Baxmann +14.336 0 1:08:578
4 7 Dennis Zimmerman +37:525 0 1:09:166
5 8 Timothy Wheatley +37.805 0 1:09:186

There’s a couple of things I’m taking away from this race: I’m still very nervous of getting too close to people online, to the point where I’m making worse decisions. I put myself into more dangerous places trying to be careful! I can only hope this will go away as I get more used to racing online again. The other thing I take away? I had much better pace in this race…

I was just 1 second away from Pole, knowing that I had a better time in me, and I probably should have finished 4th. Oh well, I’ll get there! One interesting thing I learned in this race was that because I ran medium tires, I think I had better pace than others towards the end of the race… Interesting!

View the official race report at Simautosport.

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British-born U.S. Resident, Tim Wheatley, works for Image Space Inc., a developer of driver-in-the-loop simulation technology. He lives in Illinois with his wife and children.
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