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I came very close to not getting in a race during Week 1 of 2010 Season 1. I wound up joining the very last race session of the week, just 45 minutes before the series moved on to Virginia International Raceway for Week 2. I’m very glad I joined. I had a really enjoyable race, felt competitive with no testing and took home a healthy points haul during a week which, again, I didn’t run at all in 2009 Season 4.

I ran a qualifying session earlier in the week and was really just looking for a decent time. I set a 1:51.624. It wasn’t a great time, but it would get me infront of those who don’t post times in qualifying prior to races.

I joined the session and found that I would be seventh on a 13-car grid where I was rated as being the second best driver. Looking at these numbers I knew that I should be slightly better than most of the drivers I was racing with and with most of them I’d just have to be patient. After all, the iRating is calculated from finishing positions, not necessarily how fast someone is… Most of the time I find that if a driver with a larger number overtakes me in a race, he will make some kind of mistake later in the race which causes him to be back behind me where the iRating predicted.

Anyway, the race started and I got a pretty good start, holding my seventh-place. I did have a bit of trouble with one of the cars ahead who ran into the side of me out of the corkscrew and then almost spun coming out of the final turn on the first lap. I did manage to hold my position, but I became desperate to get away from him, lunging to the inside into the first turn to start lap two and again being turned into… He then spun as we came to the end of lap two, and along with a spin by the leader I now found myself in fourth starting lap three.

I began to come under a bit of pressure now from the car behind and for four laps held him there before finally pulling over to let him go. I figured there was a chance he would spin and give me the place back and if not, at least he wasn’t going to push me into making an error. He lasted from lap seven to lap eleven infront of me before spinning, giving me back my fourth-place.

One lap later I saw the second-place car spin ahead of me and managed to sneak around the outside of him before he rejoined. This put me up into third-place. I now felt a lot more comfortable with the car and track and had now started to lap in the 1:49’s. I decided to try to push and catch the new second-place car.

Over the last five laps I did get closer and closer, but simply ran out of time. I was slightly disappointed that I had started the race in such a leisurely fashion, but still with a third-place I had brought in 75 championship points – a massive haul for me.

My fastest lap was 8 of 16. Laptime was 1:49.325. I had two incidents: One when diving to the inside in turn one on lap two, the other when running wide out of the corkscrew.

Watch on Youtube.

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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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