Note: This post was created 4/21/2010 about a race which happened on 8/6/1999. 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 sixteen, but issues with the server meant it became round fifteen. I had missed round two at Zandvoort, seven at Spa, twelve at Rouen, and was disconnected (unable to run) in rounds eleven at Mosport, thirteen at Mexico, fourteen at Mexico and sixteen at Kyalami.
This was the eighth complete 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 earlier in the season at Zandvoort. In this race and the previous one 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 both events.
Paul Godfrey had taken pole with a 1:24.51. My 1:24.58, just 0.07s slower, had been enough to put me in second-place in this Spec Ferrari race where everybody used the Ferrari default setups to qualify and race.
Both Paul and I got a great start and we held positions from the start of the race until lap eight of the twenty-seven we would be running. Paul ran wide into the final turn, hitting the armco. I drove by while Paul got back on track but then he spun going into turn one and fell out of contention. I was now in the lead and felt very confident that I was now faster than anybody else behind me, so just tried to concentrate and make sure I didn’t throw away what could potentially be my first online racing victory.
Other than a couple of minor off track excursions everything went to plan until I crossed the line to begin lap 14 and my engine started to splutter, just like it had many times during the season because of the incorrect way I was shifting gears. Heartbroken once again I had to nurse the car for the whole lap, dropping down to third-place just a few corners before I was able to reset in pit lane. I now had from lap fifteen to twenty-seven to catch John Simmons and Markus Stiepel, who were running one-two, and to try to pass them and re-take the lead of the race.
By lap twenty-two I had caught Markus (he had spun, dropping him about five seconds behind John). I had set a few fastest laps during my attempts to catch him and beaten the qualifying time that had taken pole by three-tenths in the process! Over the next four laps we were nose to tail and I fought hard to try to pass Markus cleanly and safely considering the inherent lag present when racing someone else in Europe on a U.S.-based server, but knew I was probably going to have to stick my nose in somewhere and just hope things turned out OK.
So on lap twenty-six I pulled to the inside going into turn three, got alongside but made lag-induced wheel to wheel contact with Markus. We both slid and while he went off the track I managed to keep going and moved into second-place nearly six seconds behind John. I was unable to catch John and finished four and a half seconds down.
I was quite disappointed by this result. A second-place was great, but after a season of engine failures and disconnections caused by the Papyrus 1.1 – 1.2 GPL patch saga, I definitely wanted a victory. In this race I felt like I was clearly the car to beat and knew that while battling with Markus I had been lapping as much as three seconds slower than my average lap time. Like with many times in life between this 1999 race and the 2010 writing of this race report, it is all really a question of what if and why…
So, John won the race by a margin of 4.54s. I set fastest lap, a 1:24.22.