24 Hours of Daytona | Race Recap
This past Friday, November 3rd I kicked off my 2nd 24 Hour Endurance race to support the kids of Boston Children's Hospital through the Extra Life charity. The charity raises money through 24 Hour gaming marathons. Last year I raced the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but this year I kept it state side and Raced the 24 Hours of Daytona.
There were 32 cars on the grid, comprised of LMP2, GTE, and GT3 cars. I was driving the Ford GT in the GTE division. I skipped qualifying and started at the back of the 11 car GTE pack. The race stared at 9am Eastern with Overcast skies. We got off to a tight, yet clean start with no bumping into turn one. The first stint went for roughly 53 minutes then I came into pit. For some reason Project Cars 2 wasn't displaying a pit box indicator so I had to switch on Automatic pit stops instead of manual. Half an hour later my tires were really shot, so I pitted but the game wouldn't give me tires. This was not going to work for a 24 Hr race, so I was forced to restart and set a few more pit strategies. Luckily after I made this we were interruption free for the rest of the race. But not drama free...
My first break came after 4 straight stints, Took a 15 minute break to grab some pizza then I jumped back into it. I was running 8th or 9th in GTE putting in lap times of 1:47s. 5 Hours in I went too hard into the bus stop chicane and ended up locking up into the tire barriers. I was able to get the car turned around and in the pits for repairs. Surprisingly I came out in 10th, still 1 car ahead of last. I started making a charge over the next hour, but at the 6 hours mark I tried to outbreak another Ford GT going into the bus stop chicane and again ended up in the Tire Barrier.
After the first 1/4 of the race was done we had raised over $1,500 and were sitting in 8th place for GTE, 20th overall. I put in another 3 solid stints, and moved up into 7th place before taking another break. I could tell the car just didn't have a 1st place finish in it this year, but a top 5 was going to be a good target. The AI were set to 100% skill, 25% aggression, and they weren't going to be hindered by something as human as being tired. At around 7 pm the sun started to set, making for an interesting final turn, as you were basically making it blind due to sun glare. I have to say though, it did look really cool, and the sunset was beautiful. At 8pm I took another break to pound some much needed Caffeine before the night stints.
I started the night segment of the race in 5th and quickly moved up to 4th until I got rear ended, destroying the back of the car. I got it back in the pits for repair and reentered in 5th. I started running into Pit issues during the night segment. I went to pit and got a pit box occupied warning, but it turned off as I approached so I dove down to pit lane. Upon entering though it was still occupied, resulting in a 37 mph drive through, and another lap before I could pit. This happened not once, but twice! I took a break to cool down, then got back on it. I was being very consistent with my lap times through the night, putting in 1:47 lap times and holding onto that 5th spot in GTE.
2:30 is when it was pretty clear that I was tired. I drove off the road leaving pit lane, resulting in a drive through. Immediately after serving the drive through, I spun out in the bus stop again.
The final 1/4 of the race tested my mental fortitude. My lap times were quickly approaching 2 minutes as I hit the 5:30 mark and I had fallen all the way back to 8th. My body was trembling, as I fought to stay awake and focused. I was pounding Monster energy drinks every hour to keep myself going. At 6:30 my second wind kicked in. Friends and Family popped on and were leaving encouraging messages in chat. That was just what I needed.
Right off the bat, I started putting in 1:46's that was faster than Id' done pretty much all race. Then I was putting in 1:45s, then a 1:44.164 my fastest lap of the race! At 9am I still had 2 hours to go due to the breaks I had taken. I was sitting in 6th place unlapping myself and chasing down Mika in 5th place. With 1:34 left to go I caught my break, as he pitted and I stayed on track. I was able to stretch out a 1 minute gap before I had to pit, keeping me well in front upon exit.
With 38 minutes left the sun was rising and I had a 41 second gap on Mika. I made my final pit stop just going for fuel as that would take 37 seconds and let me exit in 5th. I quickly started putting on fast laps trying to stretch that gap. I had a 55 second gap with 8 minutes left to go and then the unthinkable happend. I piled on too much speed entering turn 7 and smoked the tire barrier hard. My suspension was shot, an already taxed engine was severely damaged. There was no time to pit, I just needed to push it as hard as possible and get to the end. At 6 minutes at I had a 34 second gap to Mika behind. At 3 minutes, it was down to 25 seconds. On the final lap I was down to only a 12 second lead! Mika crossed the finish line a mere 3 seconds behind me!
After 26 hours, 5 monsters, 1821 miles, the 24 hours of Daytona was complete! With everyone's help we raised almost $1700 for the kids at Boston Children's Hospital. I really can't express how thankful I am to everyone who came out and donated. You're all making a huge impact on some well deserving kids. If you still want to donate the page is open until the end of the year just visit the link below. Thanks again to everyone, ya'll are true heroes, what a year!