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Even though I work for iRacing, I probably spend less time running the simulation than anybody would expect. Partly this is due to my life outside of sim racing, partly also is how busy work keeps me on a day to day basis. I work from home, so a lot of the work I do – like rendering video for TV – won’t allow me to do anything else on my home PC while it is processing. I’d heard very good things about the new iRacing Ford Mustang FR500S from members, but hadn’t yet driven it. Talking to private league organizer Kevin Bobbitt on the phone yesterday led me to want to join the hosted race on Wednesday night and give it a shot…

I know VIR fairly well, I got my first ever road racing win here back in 2008. I got down to a reasonable pace fairly quickly during practice but had difficulty at first because although I had driven VIR in a few different cars, they had all been single seaters! Suddenly being on the left of the car felt odd, especially in Oak Tree turn where you try to get as close to the barrier with the right of the car as possible.

Going into qualifying I knew I had very good pace and if I got a perfect lap could probably manage a 2:07 lap time. My first lap in qualifying was a 2:08.399 and I actually decided I’d stick with that. The rest of the session I spent lapping with different fuel levels trying to work out how the car would handle differently. As things turned out, my first lap was good enough to take pole.

Clean start (with the exception of the car attached to my rear bumper!)

Clean start (with the exception of the car attached to my rear bumper!)

The race started with a rolling start (something I am not used to on roadcourses), I got a good start but Mike Tosi behind seemed to get a better one and ran into the back of me on the straight. I wobbled around a little but kept control, and Mike took most of the damage anyway. As this wasn’t an iRacing organised race I didn’t mind a little rougher racing, so I laughed to myself and in the process missed my braking marker for turn one… After going across the grass I rejoined ninth and by the end of the lap has passed a couple of cars and sat in seventh-place.

On lap two I was trying hard to pass Tom Bobbitt, and shortly after managing to pass him I spun, letting him back by. It wasn’t until lap four that I caught and eventually passed him.

By lap five, Mike Tosi had quit out of the race and I was pushing hard to catch Clive Whittaker ahead of me. I passed Clive on lap eight, setting my fastest lap of the race at the same time. I kept pushing and two laps later passed a spun James Ptak, moving into third-place.

With one lap remaining I had second-place Kevin Bobbitt in my sights and managed to make a pass. To my great surprise at the end of the lap I was also able to pass a spun Brandon Davies, he had been leading so I crossed the line to take the white flag in first-place – what a come back!

Good clean racing and individual battles.

Good clean racing and individual battles.

I continued to lead the race until the very last complex of corners on the last lap. I felt like I had braked exactly like I did every other lap and for some reason the car just did not stop in time… I ran off the road while Brandon and Kevin continued, dropping me back to third-place for the finish.

Fin Sta Driver Interval Led Fast Lap
1 9 Brandon Davis 13 laps 4 2:07.930
2 4 Kevin Bobbitt -03.620 4 2:09.604
3 1 Timothy Wheatley -04.248 1 2:08.476
4 2 James Ptak -06.395 0 2:08.356
5 5 Clive Whittaker -19.011 0 2:10.362
3 1 Timothy Wheatley -04.248 1 2:08.476

As the race doesn’t count towards anything, I’m not terribly disappointed with the result. It was my first ever time driving the iRacing Ford Mustang FR500S and I’m delighted to have been on the pace with it. My fastest lap of the race, a 2:08.476, felt very comfortable so I’m sure there’s plenty more time there. This car is fun! Looking forward to trying to drive it more in 2010 Season 3.

Watch on Youtube.

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About Tim
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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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