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Inexperience Hinders Good Progress

The third round of the SMRC eSports iRacing Summer Championship took place at the virtual recreation of Silverstone last Thursday, with the event marking the series' first 60-minute single-race format. The field of GT4 cars were limited on fuel capacity, meaning that pitstops would also make an appearance for the first time.


Qualifying

Jordan's strong form in the series so far continued at Silverstone, as he lined-up 6th on the grid. Whilst missing-out on the top five (and the bonus points associated with that) for the first time, the long hour ahead would pay double-points and so it would be the race which would carry greater importance than ever before.


"I'm a little disappointed not to make the top five in qualifying." Jordan said. "Looking at the data, I think the pace was in the car to go higher, maybe even the front row, but I couldn't string together a complete lap and paid the price for it. Still, 6th is a good platform to build on in the race and that's where the big points will be handed out."

Race

A clean start all-round meant that the 60-minuite race got underway well and Jordan slotted into 6th on the road, behind Andrew Hopley and ahead of Rory Bryant. The race then very quickly settled into a rhythm, with the only notable early action being Adam Grant losing the rear of his Porsche through the chicane at the end of lap one and dropping down the order - elevating Jordan to 5th.

The first half hour of the race proved a very tense affair. Lewis Ward and Fraser Williamson were separated by less than a second up-front, with Jack Eye, Hopley, Gronkowski, Bryant and Grossman all circulating in a pack a few seconds back. Grossman eventually got the jump on Bryant and closed on Jordan, as he in-turn pulled right up to Hopley's bumper. By the 28-minute mark, the three were separated by less than 8-tenths of a second and with Jordan now being held-up behind Hopley's BMW he chose that moment to jump into the pits and attempt to undercut the car ahead.

After taking on the required fuel and four new tyres, Jordan re-joined in 16th spot with a lot of work to do but some fresh tools to achieve it - setting his fastest laps of the race in a push to make the early stop count. However, it was in the next couple of laps that his inexperience would be exposed and what looked like a clever strategy ultimately turned into a rookie-mistake.


As the other leading sim racers pitted, it became apparent that fitting new tyres was not the way to go in the race - with the time taking to change each wheel being far greater than any lap time gained from the fresh rubber. Jordan's fight-back was strong, but after the stops had shaken-out he had not only lost almost 20-seconds to Hopley, but had fallen behind Grossman as well and down to 6th place. His efforts in the final 20-minutes were impressive - at times lapping faster than the leaders and closing the gap to Hopley down to under 7 seconds by the flag. However, it was never going to be enough and he crossed the line after an hour of hard racing in 6th place.


In a surprise post-race update, Fraser Williamson was handed a black flag penalty, dropping him to 11th and elevating Jordan to 5th in the standings.

"That's by far the longest sim-race I've ever competed in and I had a brilliant time."

Jordan reflected on the race afterwards; "Well, I'm definitely in two minds at the moment. Firstly, I loved the experience of the full hour's race - with the strategy element and just the sheer time on track it was great to get into a rhythm. That's by far the longest sim-race I've ever competed in and I had a brilliant time. Then of course there's the elephant in the room and I feel pretty foolish about my pitstop. I just assumed that taking tyres was no big deal - especially with the amount of fuel we'd need to take on and I never even thought to test how long a stop with tyres and a stop without would compare prior to the race. I think I've learned the hard way; that was a stupid mistake to make! Obviously looking back to the way things panned-out, if I had left the tyres and not lost the 20-seconds or so in the stop I think we could have fought for 4th (which would have turned into 3rd thanks to Fraser's penalty). So a podium would have been so close. But all I can do is learn from this for the next 60-minute race we do. I'll not make the same mistake again and be sure to analyse all the options before we get to race day!"

"I still think we can be proud of where we did finish. I could easily have lost a lot more places with the strategy, but luckily our pace was good enough to still come home strongly. I hope I can get away with mistakes like this since I've only been seriously sim-racing for a few months and that still makes me a rookie!"

Jordan has moved up to 6th in the Championship after round 3, just one point ahead of Andrew Hopley and three behind Ronald Grossman in what is becoming a very tight fight. The next round sees the return to a double-30-minute race format with a reverse-15 grid for the second race. Action comes from the Road Atlanta circuit in the USA on the 23rd of July.

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