Highs and Lows from Round 1 of the Sportscar Open Championship
A tale of two races makes for an interesting start to the SCO.
A difficult day of racing against some of sim racing's best left a bittersweet taste for Satellite Racing with one entry scoring good points and the other failing to record a finish. Competing again in the annual Sportscar Open Endurance Series (SCO), Satellite had high hopes for reasonable results from both entries with the first of six rounds being one of the toughest -- 12 hours around Sebring International Raceway. The Dallara LMP2 entry of Alex Ellis, Sai Andra, and Adam Crane was able to finish a respectable seventh-place, while the Ferrari 488 GT3 entry of Dallas Pataska and Alex Gal was involved in an incident shortly into the longest race of the calendar and failed to finish.
Qualifying saw both cars miss out on good starting positions due to a mix of strategy and execution, with the LMP2 entry qualifying towards the bottom in 18th in class, and the GT3 entry similarly towards the bottom starting 27th in class. As soon as the Green Flag flew though, both cars made immediate impacts on their class, with Ellis and Gal gaining six and five spots respectively.
In LMP2, it was a smooth and steady race from Ellis and Andra who methodically worked their way through the field, eventually settling into a seventh-place spot where they spent the majority of the race. Looking at lap/standings graph would suggest the race was uneventful, but it was hardly a walk in the park with Ellis and Andra needing to remain focused and consistent over the 12 hours. "Entering the race, we knew the LMP2 field was going to be completely stacked, and although we didn't discuss as a team, I had my sights set on a Top 10 -- achieving a Top 10 in such a strong field would be a huge accomplishment," said Ellis, who drove 207 laps across the race. "We executed what felt like a perfect race: no penalties, no spins, no damage, and we literally put in 12 hours of straight quali laps. It really goes to show the strength of field in SCO when we put together a perfect race and it's only P7! With that being said, I feel like it's a privilege to compete at this level. Competing against an elite level really forces us to bring our best, and I think that's exactly what we're in for this season in SCO. I'm really looking forward to the next round already."
"Despite our struggles in qualifying, we extracted everything we could from the car during the race," Andra agreed. "But most importantly, we kept the car clean, and clear of penalties, and that made us the farthest mover in class, from 18th to 7th. I'm really proud of Adam for his setup and strategy smarts, and Alex for his amazing pace and execution."
Despite being prepared to run, a calculated decision was made to keep Crane out of the car as intermittent hardware issues during testing presented too large a risk of affecting the result. "Its always tough to sit out because of something outside of your control," said Crane. "All you can do in that situation though is be supportive and help out the team in any way you can."
In GT3, Gal started the race strategically expecting to be in the car for a long while before the race came to an abrupt end on lap 14, when an aggressive move by a lapping LMP2 caused a collision and sent the Ferrari into the tire barrier at Turn 9 at a high rate of speed.
"I started my quadruple stint very conservatively and expected attrition and consistency to play in our favor," said Gal of the race start. "Well, it turned out we were the first big collision between a GT and LMP after around 30 minutes, and our race was then over. Even after repairing the damage, it was too significant for us to continue. Its unfortunate but we have to keep our head on our shoulders and focus on what we could do better and what areas we should focus on for the next race."
Both entries are excited for the next round on November 27th at the Circuit of the Americas for different reasons: the LMP2 to build on the good result, and the GT3 for redemption.
(Photo Credits: Improvised Design)
SCO Round 1 Results SCO Championship Standings
Be sure to follow Satellite Racing throughout the Sportscar Open Endurance season by watching the race broadcasts and by reading our race recaps!
October 30, 2021
12 Hours of Sebring
November 27, 2021
Lone Star State 1000 at COTA
January 8, 2022
6 Hours of Red Bull Ring
February 5, 2022
1000 Miles of Spa
March 5, 2022
6 Hours of Silverstone
April 2, 2022
6 Hours of the Glen