Updated: Nov 3
A Race of Opposites yields two Top-5 finishes for Consecutive Rounds.
Satellite Racing continues to demonstrate championship consistency with both of its entries in the International Virtual Racing Association (IVRA) Endurance Sportscar Championship. After 1000 km at the Red Bull Ring, the GT3 Pro/Am car of Dallas Pataska and Ryan Washeleski finished third, and the LMP2 entry driven by Paul Darling and Adam Crane came home in fifth. The results come after both cars scored top-5s at the previous round at the Nurburgring.
Qualifying saw the two cars with opposite results: Darling putting the Satellite LMP2 in a great starting spot with a third place effort, and the Mercedes AMG GT3 entry finishing the qualifying session at the very back of the field after Washeleski suffered from several issues during the session, hampering his result.
The race in LMP2 started off rocky, as a small mistake on the opening lap triggered a stop-and-go penalty, putting the team on the back foot. After losing a lap due to the penalty, remaining one lap down until a safety car became the goal. A safety car luckily came out on lap 55, letting the car gain its lap back and putting it back in contention but off-strategy on pitstops. A decision to not pit under a safety car near halfway to collect halfway points, and betting on additional safety cars, proved somewhat costly in the long run, since no further advantageously-timed safety car came. The race continued to develop unfavorably for the #64, as being off-sequence meant an additional stop compared to those who pit at the halfway mark. A battle between Crane and the Team RSO entry throughout the final two stints, culminating with a daring last-lap pass in turn 6 by Crane, netted the team a fifth place finish.
"There was some good confidence building with the qualifying pace being towards the pointy end of the field," said Paul Darling after the race. "Adam is great at making a fast LMP2 car. It was a hard fight back from dropping a lap down in the beginning, but it was a strong, persistent charge to end up finishing P5 in the end. I think we are in a decent position for the overall championship, and I know we can end up on the top step of the podium by the end of the season."
Finishing fifth promoted the LMP2 entry to third place in the overall championship, 58 points behind leader Apex Tech Racing, and only 32 points behind second place Puresims with a further four rounds to go.
In GT3, the race started on the back foot with the car beginning the race at the back of the grid. "After qualifying, the strategy going into the race was to simply go as long as possible without taking on any damage and focusing on strategy surrounding the drive time limits for our P/A entry," said Dallas Pataska. "We did end up picking up about three minutes of damage unfortunately, but to no fault to Ryan who was driving at the time. As usual, Ryan did a great job the entire race staying out of trouble and keeping us in contention, especially doing that while going from dead last P20 at the start all the way up to P2 by the end of the first stint."
Just like qualifying, the GT3 entry performed the opposite of its sister LMP2 entry by pitting during the safety car period just before halfway, sacrificing the points awarded at 50% race distance. "When the yellow came out just before halfway, we decided to stop and swap drivers to have me do my double earlier, which uprooted our strategy a bit, and would put Ryan back in to close out the last stint to meet proper drive time. The strategy change ended up working out decent for the end of the race, but did cost us valuable points at the halfway scoring mark. Overall, the race went better than expected and we came out with another top three finish to be proud of."
In the battle for the Championship, the GT3 entry sits only 21 points behind the leader with one round to go in the Fall season, though another four to go before the overall conclusion. "Barcelona in a few weeks is going to be a stressful race with the points battle," Pataska added, "but I'm confident that if we keep our car clean we will have a chance to take the fight to the points leader."
Round 3 of the IVRA Endurance Series is November 13, 2021 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.