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Note: This post was created 4/19/2010 about a race which happened on 7/9/1999. IGPS was the first simracing league I ever joined and this was my second season. It should be noted that the video is created from the server replay and that my ping to the server was probably about 0.3 seconds at the time (I was located in England, the server was somewhere in the United States). This meant that the movements of the car were exaggerated and at times unrealistic to the view of the server and other drivers (some others also had a ping over 0.3s – meaning an in-race lag of 0.6s or more was common). The basic rules of the league (which changed for this second season) were that you could reset (get a fresh car) only if you did it in pitlane.

This race was supposed to be round twelve, but issues with the server meant it became round ten. I had missed round two at Zandvoort and seven at Spa.

This was the seventh race I ever did using manual gears, the only problem was that I was doing it wrong. I was ‘flat shifting’ – which means I was not lifting off the throttle when I clicked the upshift button on my wheel. This led to a lot of engine failures and a lot of frustration until I discovered my error after the previous round at Zandvoort. In this race at Spa I understood what I was doing wrong but had not yet been able to get used to lifting off the throttle during my upshifts, so I continued to do flat shifting for this event.

The switch to manual gears had really unlocked my speed. My first ever race with manual gears and I put the Honda on pole position at Silverstone, second-place at the Nurburgring, fourth at Monaco, second at Rouen and second at Watkins Glen. At Zandvoort I didn’t qualify and here at Spa in the Brabham I would start second behind Markus Stiepel. Markus took pole with a 3:23.51 and my lap was just 0.18s slower.

I got a good start and took the lead from Markus, leading the first two laps by a comfortable distance. By lap three I was starting to lose concentration and after running wide out of Eau Rouge I lifted and waited for Markus to pass me, which he did, putting me to second place. I figured I could follow him around and wait until a lap or so remained, I’d be able to keep my concentration very well with him ahead.

Everything went well until lap seven when I was approaching the Masta Kink: The engine started to splutter and I had to drive the rest of the lap with smoke pouring from my gearbox. I lost second-place to Torsten and then during my pitlane reset lost third to Bob Migacz. This gave me just two laps to try to catch and pass him.

I pushed as hard as I could and caught Bob on lap nine. He fought me quite hard for the place but eventually ran of the road ahead of me, allowing me to pass. So Markus finished first, Torsten second and I got a third-place that I was actually very happy with. Paul Godfrey had also been charging hard and finished 10 seconds behind me in fifth, setting a 3:23 fastest lap on his drive.

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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