Checkpoint Esports had 2 Entries in todays 17 car field. The #912 Porsche 911 GT3 was driven by Mitch Robinson and Alex Lossberg, and the #53 Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Matt Brady and Matt Neil.
#912 Porsche 911
For some reason, the Porsche didn’t make it out in time to do a competitive lap in qualifying starting her in 15th Place. Alex Lossberg started the race, taking advantage of the many first lap accidents, made his way into 10th place on the opening lap. However, the field slowly picked them off over the course of the first hour and a bit and took a gamble to stretch the fuel one more lap, hoping to get onto the wet tyre at the perfect moment as the rain started falling. This would have jumped them right up the order as most of the field had already pitted once for new dry tyres. The Gamble didn’t pay off with the car coming to a halt just at the pit entry, ending their race a little after 1 hour. Mitch Robinson not turning a single lap.
#53 Ferrari 488
Matt Neil muscled his way around 4 qualifying laps, all of which had errors or was impacted by other cars that had crashed infront. Set a time that was good enough for 9th place 3.0 seconds off pole. Neil also started the Race going from 9th to 7th on the opening lap and able to keep up with the pack for some time. After a while he started to drop away and as he was caught by the two behind, he took advantage of some crashed cars and got to 6th before slowly dropping back to 8th. A few laps before the stop, frustration and a brain lapse took hold as the car went shooting off the end of the chase and spinning causing him to lose 2 place and managing to catch back up to 9th just before they both pitted for new tyres and full tank of fuel.
Brady came out of the pits and pushed hard and 2 laps later was breathing down the neck of the Acura NSX GT3 in front. What ensued was a dog fight in which the cars were repeatedly making contact before ultimately Brady was taken out by the NSX as the rain started to come down. He re-joined some seconds down the road with a back marker and some front runners eventually pitting for wets, or so we thought. Coming out of the pits it seamed ok but very twitchy and loose. However the tyres were cold and the lap times were way off everyone else's. As we dropped back to 11th to 12 and 13th. Brady brought the car back in to change tyres for a new set of wets. In the pits, the tyres the virtual mechanics took off were ice tyres, as wets were fitted to the car. This would explain a lot. Immediately the car took off and was somewhat competitive again however, 3 laps down, 7 minutes off the race lead and 3 minutes (1.5laps) behind the car in front in 13th place. The Ferrari’s race was pretty much over. After 2 hours and 15 minutes, Brady pulled the car to the side going up mountain straight in 3rd gear and hoped out while Neil quickly hoped in with ¾ tank of fuel.
Neil was hungry and determined. It seemed like a long shot but their may be hope of a top 10 after all. We may not have been one of the fastest out there but one of the most consistent. The gap slowly came down to the car ahead and eventually one of the midfield teams seemed to have parked it at the chase and never got going again. Eventually giving us 12th place. Neil pitted for new hard slicks after it had dried out and was back out going as quick as he could. For some reason the car felt slow, and wasn’t getting to the speeds they were. Maybe not noticing earlier but the brakes seemed to be flickering on and off when the pedal wasn’t even being touched. Brady also brought up he felt like something was off when he was in the car. Changing the Pedal Deadzone in the settings menu would have fixed this but we were unable to change settings during the race or pitstop when Neil tried both, handing the car back to Brady with about 3 hours to go on a full tank and double stinting the tyres. The Issue was costing them a few seconds per lapBrady got back in and tried his damn hardest but the car was losing 3 to 6 seconds a lap to their normal times but still very very slowly closing the gap to the now 11th and 10th placed cars. It was a trying stint with more take outs, crashes and back marker traffic. Brady was happy to get out and hand the car back over to Neil on a Full tank of fuel and new hards to go to the end with 90 minutes remaining.
In the stop, Neil tried to fix the faulty brake pedal physically by slamming the pedal hard a few times then pulled back on the pedal very hard a few times. Amazingly, this fixed the issue and they were back on track. Immediately the difference was shown with the car doing new Personal Best Lap time after new Personal Best Lap Time. Some laps they were reeling the car in front in by 4 to 5 seconds a lap. 2 spins costed Neil time and made him angrier. The gap was closing to 11th, he was passing cars in 9th and 8th places who were laps in front and keeping up with cars in 5th and 6th position. Neil got Brady and
Neil got Brady and the boys from #912 to calculate the fuel usage. It was going to be so close, another stop was going to wipe out all the chances they had at 11th place. 11th could feel the pressure as the gap came down from 80 seconds, sometimes very quickly as he made mistakes. Then with 20 minutes to go, they saw him. And with 15 to go took advantage as he went off at the chase and Neil put one down the inside going into Murrays, both gave racing room with the 11th placed Ferrari going into the puddle of water from earlier and hit the wall on the exit giving them 11th place and some breathing space as the question was now “Can I make it home on fuel?” It would be so close. With 14 mins to go it was fuel saving time. Using all the techniques they knew. Short Shifting, ¾ throttle, lifting and coasting. 5 laps/10 minutes worth of that and it seemed all clear with 2 to 3 laps to go. the now 12th placed Ferrari pitted for a top up and was slowly closing but still a long way back, the car had to make it home. And it crossed the finish line with exactly 3.0L to go which is exactly 1 lap at full pelt.
After a trying day, Brady and Neil were happy with themselves and how they dealt with what was thrown at them.
By Matt Neil