So, after a bit of delay due to a problem with the blogging system its time to put up part 2. And really 2010 was by far the biggest change for the FLMS, and for me. For the FLMS it marked a huge change in direction, as much as you get get in such a niche series, and quite a new challenge for my driving.
The series had huge growth in 2010, we moved from a single lobby system to a multiple car one, meaning we had 16 even 24 spaces at times and a lot of competition. The size of the calender was almost doubled, going from 6 to 11, and the lengths of the races changed from being a measured number of laps to a timed distance of between 2.5 and 3.5 hours. Le Mans was on the calendar too, because of the move from Forza Motorsport 2 onto the newly released Forza Motorsport 3.
Forza Motorsport 3 itself offered a personal challenge to me, and the 2010 season marked the beginning of a 2 year struggle to try and cope with the limitations of the game. On Forza 2 you were really able to use a lot of slip angle and be very aggressive with the cars, changing direction fast and balancing the car on the edge of adhesion, which suited me perfectly. However, Forza 3 offered almost no slip angle and cars that acted as if they were on rails. This hurt me and I was never really able to conquer the issue. In fact it wasn't until the start of this year (2012) and Forza 4 that I began to recover, and being completely honest I haven't felt comfortable in a car until the B-Spec regulations were announced recently and I am enjoying testing for Le Mans more than anything else for almost 3 years!!
Anyway, with that in mind 2010 started with a bit of a dilemma for me. I decided to move to Lola for the first race of the season, for the reason that I had work experience with the company for a couple of weeks (I was only 16 years old back then). Sebring opened the season as Laguna took the place of the finale, a setup that has remained ever since... And I qualified second for the race, it was a decent performance when I think about the competition. As for the race it was very lonely, I inherited the lead when the eventual champion VenomTDI crashed out, and I managed to hold it until one of the weirdest things I have ever done happened. Going onto the start finish straight after lapping a soon to be terrified GT leader (Bamalot, in my ex-drive!) I simply drove into the pit wall. It wasn't a mistake as such, I wasn't pitting and I was conscious of what I was doing. I don't know why, but I just did it. I honestly don't have a clue what was going on in my head! Anyway that signalled the end of my time in P1. And for the next race I was back into my beautiful Ferrari!
That race was Catalunya, and GTE (Or GT2 at the time) had changed a lot with the new game. We now had a situation where the Porsche was super fast in the corners and the Ferrari had an advantage on the straights. Anyway, at Catalunya the corners were the dominant feature, and I was very happy to settle down as the only lobby 1 Ferrari in third behind the 2 Flying Lizards. A good start should have put me in a position to overtake Lex and attack Polaris into turn 1, but I was greeted by some atrocious weaving from Lex and barely managed to get ahead of him into the first corner. A huge battle between us then ensued with me attempting to get beyond his erratic weaving and then losing the place from a mistake or prototypes pushing me wide. Eventually the positions stuck when he rear ended me, and that was my final position despite being hit by a prototype through lag.
Mugello followed and although I was desperate to win I knew it would be difficult with the car. What I didn't know was that I was about to endure my worst ever drive. I simply didn't have the pace and theirs not much more to say than that. I couldn't even get in lobby 1, and my 5th position grid slot meant I couldn't even fight to win. I finished where I started, I think, I don't even know, I try to forget this race! Nurburgring followed, and that was a much better showing. Qualifying third I started second and had a great battle with about 3 cars for the lead of the race before the order settled down, and while trying to undercut into second position I was completely taken out by an Audi. That hurt. I was pretty annoyed and when the same Audi hit the leader, Polaris, I was so annoyed that I didn't want the order to change, and decided to impede second place's progress by a few seconds. Taking the final chicane at a reduced speed, mostly due to my considerable damage, Bamalot, in second rammed into me, and halted his charge for the win. That's the truth about what happened. But it was basically another display of my youth. I shouldn't have got involved at all. Risi Competizione was a chilly place after a collision between team mates.
All of this meant I went into the summer break with the outlook as such. I had missed the first race, struggled for performance, had a few collisions and sat way off the lead of the championship. Not to mention driving my team mate out of Risi in his anger. Not good when he is sitting second in the championship after winning Sebring. This left me in a spot of bother but hungry to make amends. I knew I would be fast at Le Mans, but qualifying on pole position by 2.2 seconds came as a bit of a surprise! The race itself saw an early battle between myself and an angry American, Bamalot, who I personally think was quite 'aggressive' with the track limits, however this faded when Bamalot slammed his Ferrari into the pit wall. The race was very quiet from then on, at least until I forgot to pit and had to crawl around the track to avoid running out of fuel. I was able to recover the few minutes I lost in the process and ended up bringing home the field by a lap An amazing way to start the second half of the season!
Road America was Round 6 and it offered another strong track for my Ferrari. I duly took pole position however a catastrophic first lap error saw me forget to brake and lose about 20 seconds just trying to turn around and get out of the huge sand trap! My race then went from bad to worse as I was collected by a prototype through the fast corner at the end of the lap. The prospect of the next race at Maple Valley didn't offer much more, but I was hugely relieved to qualify in lobby 1, in fact in third! In one of my best drives of the year (I think) I managed to claim second place, as the faster Porsches and Jaguars had trouble. But it was Polaris who won the race, increasing his tally to 5 for the season, a new record!
Road America did offer some good news as it was at this time that I secured my team mate for 2011. I was looking for a driver who I could help improve and a new guy called Shifty was interested. We ran some tests, and although I'll admit I was a little apprehensive at first there was potential there (Obviously, saying it now) so I took him onboard.
Round 8 looked to be a similar story as Polaris was definitely faster than me. But, I managed to take the lead after starting second on the grid, and basically defended with everything I had as Polaris worked his best to get around me. Holding off the eventual champion for 3.5 hours was always going to be a tall order, but I managed it for about an hour, including a nerve racking pit window, until Polaris went too deep into the tricky turn coming out of the esses, and collected my rear end. This left me in a bit of a bad position, but Polaris spent 2 hours just following me. He said it was a good race, but I thank him for his conduct, he's a fair guy, and he definitely went beyond the call of duty at Road Atlanta. Even in these circumstances I was happy with the win, it improved my championship postition, and I had managed to hold onto the lead until a mistake from the competition secured me the win.
Suzuka followed and I took a nice pole position ahead of a Porsche with a clear mindset - score points and look after the huge championship lead. The race itself was quiet for me, and I actually ended up leading a brilliant Ferrari 1-2, something I really enjoyed as Beltaboy has been a really great servant for the Ferrari cause! The 1-2 finish came about when Polaris and the fast Jaguar of Born KIA had some kind of laggy collision, or I think that was the case. The victory was soured a little by the host of investigations that followed, although none were to do with me... It was also the first win for Shifty, this time in LMP1.
So the penultimate round of the season was at Silverstone, and the scarily fast Jaguar of Born KIA took pole position from me in the closing stages of qualifying and by the tightest of margins. Shifty was also pulled into Ferrari a race early to try and catch Porsche, he qualified 2.7 seconds off me. The tone for the race was similar and after some more horrific weaving from Lex, who was in my team, supposedly trying to help me! I was in the position where I could only match Born, and not make inroads to his 25 second lead. The breakthrough came when Born made an error, damaging his engine and really gifting me a win on home soil. A nice landmark.
Round 11 and the final race of the season was another case of the super fast Jaguar getting in the mix with Jonny and myself. The race at Laguna Seca actually proved to be a really interesting one. At the start I made a move up the inside of Born and there were only millimetres between Born, myself and the wall. At the time I thought my race was going to end before it had begun! But Hayley has an extremely narrow waist, as I managed to come out in the lead. From there I had a quiet run to the chequered flag, but behind me all sorts was going on. An hour into the race Born KIA lost his Jaguar going up the hill towards the corkscrew and speared into the wall. Polaris went under his car to avoid him! But Beltaboy, and Solodevil were not as fortunate, the ensuing pile up resulting in the series' only ever safety car! One that Solodevil was unaware of as he flew past the train of cars at racing speed! This gave him a 5 minute cooling off period, and the race restarted with a field littered with stricken cars. Later in the race the champion, Polaris, had a collision with the wall giving him damage.
The victory at Laguna was one I enjoyed a lot, and I left the season not feeling too downhearted as I had won the final 4 races, taking Le Mans too. Obviously the year was all about Polaris, who did really well. But I was very happy to have closed the gap to about 10 points at the season end. Risi also came close in the team's championship, but Flying Lizard took that. Good news came in that Ferrari won the Manufacturer's title. Something that has still avoided Porsche's grasp!
At the end of the season a novel opportunity was also presented, and I teamed up with Polaris and Shifty to drive an Audi R15+ in a 24 hour race of champions at Le Mans. I qualifyed the car and was able to take pole position. We won the race despite a few issues with my controller connection! Which was again enjoyable. It was good to be in the same car as Polaris for once, and of course Shifty was welcome in the team. With that said I'm sure they might not have said the same about me after I went around the outside of 2 Peugeots through Indianapolis with 18 hours gone.
However, the frustrations of driving a car in a way I didn't naturally want to weren't over... 2011 Offered more challenges, but I was keen to get it underway
At Le Mans I was able to take my first win of the season.
Maple Valley offered a surprise second place.
Ok, so I thought I would do a quick run-through of my ForzaLeMans history as a nice way to start my blog here and perhaps even be informative to the newer members we have. So far I have raced in 2009, 2010 and 2011, so I have split my little review into a 3 parts - beginning with the Golden one...
Ok, so the FLMS came about in early 2009 when Jonny (My eternal partner/nemesis/lover/friend/pastry chef) and I decided we wanted to move on from the previous formula we had been racing under. In the same year we held our first season of competition consisting of 6 rounds at Laguna Seca, Sebring, Mugello, Road America and the Nurburgring. Since then our series has grown to a level that I would really have struggled to imagine as possible 3 or so years ago. In any case here is my story so far:
In 2009 the scene was very difficult to the one we are currently greeted with. The FLMS was run off a much smaller website (prior even to the zetaboards one many of you know) and over the full course of the season 8 cars competed. On Forza 2 the Risi Ferrari was, excluding the Vipers, the car to beat in GT2, so I was privileged to be allowed it's use. At Laguna Seca, however, I chose to race with my Microsoft wheel, which left me slower than Jonny and his Flying Lizard Porsche. Although I held an early lead, a small mistake leaving the pits, for what I believe was the second time, meant Polaris, who had pitted behind me, could slide past and lead me home for a comfortable win. A moment that may be of interest did come in the later stages of the race, when, while falling in love with my car, Jonny christened her "Hayley" for me.
Sebring was the next race on the calendar, and for it the Microsoft wheel was put aside and I converted Pole Position into my first ever FLMS victory. Needless to say I was extremely happy, I'm smiling just writing about it! I remember at one point in the race I actually clocked my first ever top 100 leaderboard lap time. Hayley was beautiful. It felt really special and is something that I will imagine will remain a cherished memory for many years. Interestingly it was the beginning of a long tradition, something I am hoping to defend this year - Risi Competition have never lost a race at Sebring, and have always qualified on pole position.
Mugello was the next race and it was one I desperately wanted to win in front of the Tifosi! I secured pole position when the Flying Lizards had trouble in practice, however in the race it was a different story. I quickly lost the lead and struggled to keep pace with Jonny. Then going into the fast chicane towards the end of the lap, bang, I had been hit from behind by the LMP1 class leader. I was pretty upset to say the least, a more mature me might have been less upset about it, but I was only 15 back then... In any case I did manage to bring the car home and finish the race, but it was a blow to the Championship for me. Even the dominant flag to flag victory at Road America which followed did little to improve my mood as my main competition, Flying Lizard, was absent.
Sunset Peninsula's Nissan Speedway hosted the fifth round of the season. 150 laps of an oval was, unsurprisingly, ridiculous, and Jonny and I actually teamed up in an attempt to keep up with the LMP1 cars, but it was futile, and the race ended with another hollow victoy for me after a few bumps with Jonny, cutting it too fine. The history books read that it was this race that I took the championship, however a seventh round of the season had been planned at Silverstone, so at the time I was looking at the Green Hell as a championship decider... I believe my thoughts were probably along the lines of "brilliant".
So I entered the race at the Nurburgring Nordschleife knowing I could take my first FLMS championship, and was, not unsurprisingly, a little nervous. Jonny had chosen to run a low downforce setup, and although I had pole position, he managed to use his straight-line speed to beat me into the first corner. From then onwards I stuck on his tail, waiting, and waiting, for the moment when I could pounce. The moment came on the far side of the track when he ran wide and I slide through into the lead with Hayley. The race never ran full distance, and was red flagged, but I had won my 4th race of the season, and first title.
I didn't actually enjoy the moment as much as I perhaps should or could have. I had only just had my 16th birthday when I took the title, and being thrown into a Championship challenging car and I suppose being the favourite at the age of 15 is quite a lot of pressure. What I do remember feeling is that it was more of a relief than anything to me. I do think its a shame, and considering that I may never take another title I wish I was able to appreciate and enjoy the moment a bit more. I don't think I had a moment really to think about the season and what I had achieved before being forced to write up reviews, or think about next season.
What I can say about 2009 is that I have never again enjoyed driving a car so much in my career. In her 2009 spec, Hayley was gorgeous. So throwable, and yet forgiving. Being able to really ring everything out of her, without compromising corner exit speed or whatever else was a joy. I wasn't mature enough to realise it, but 2009 was the best chance I have had to enjoy a season to yet.
I often come here to moan, and I'm sorry about that, but this place is infuriating. Its horrible to have such a high output and no input to help sustain your output, it just drains your resources.
So I collect all the moaning in here and dump it all in ridiculous blogs like this one, which is how I roll. I'm not even going to begin today's moan because it would annoy me too much.
Was absent, and the normal bullshit ensued. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK HAVE I DONE!! COME ON, WHY IS THIS HAPPENING GOD? I mean seriously? Sheeesh, I hate motorsport. Its not fun, its just an addiction, once you begin you can never, never stop.
"Angel" and "Nightmare" are such beautiful words, don't you think? There is such vivid imagery conjured up by them, and it contrasts so wonderfully... Pretty.
So, just before I go to bed I thought I would make a short post after tonight's race!
Well, all I can say is the race went very smoothly for me, without Jonny there I didn't even need to overtake anybody and inherited the lead for the start, this saddened me a bit because I had looked forward to what could have been a very exciting race. However, it did make my life a little easier and from the start I pulled away from Shifty, who was busy trying to hold off Matti in the Jaguar.
After the first pit stops had all panned out Matti managed to jump Shifty, however I already had a comfortable margin which I slowly expanded on throughout the race. And, unfortunately, as it means this blog is very boring, I had an easy ride home, I was rather pleased with my driving at the end of the day, which makes it all the more of a shame that I couldn't have tested myself against the pole sitter...
Anyway, it was a good victory nonetheless and one that contributed towards Risi Competizione claiming the team's championship with 3 races left to run! Very exciting news, and testament to our hard work! Road Atlanta follows, which could again be a very close race, so I am a bit less gloomy heading into this race, following a much more pleasant result.
I am very much looking forward to this race, as a package I'm a couple of tenths off the pace at the moment but I think we can make a good race of it! Jonny in the Porsche and Matti in the Jaguar look to be a little faster than us at the moment, but I am sure we can think of something. I've been really enjoying driving the track, so we will see how it goes!
I don't really know what kind of times are likely to come from this but I have a feeling that I will be distinctly uncompetitive here. I will be trying to squeeze in a lot of practice but I'm not sure how much I will be able to get... Here is an interesting fact though - I have already done way over 8,000 miles in my Ferrari in practice for the past 2 races.
So, hopefully the Corvettes will be restricted a little bit to make it fairer because at the moment we are reeling from being destroyed at a track with long straights and slow corners, a track that should have played into our hands and been bad for them... I'd hate to see what happens here.
The Jag will walk this race, but I am interested to see what will happen otherwise.
I am not very good at accepting anything. It is my natural instinct to fight for every last single thing as hard as I possibly can.
When there comes a time that I think to myself: I will concede something for no long or short term benefit, then I will stop racing. Until then I will continue to try as hard as I can every single lap, and I will not give up, ever.
Somebody else cannot win a championship for you, they can only win you a title. Only you, yourself, can win something more meaningful than a physical title for yourself.
You cannot rely on a car, or the mistakes of others and expect to be crowned. Only if you deserve to win, will you win, and God will make sure of that.
Every race the Ferrari team puts in more effort that any other team on the grid. As soon as the previous race is over we set up shop at the new track and practice. We test, we tune, and we drive the track hundreds, perhaps thousands of times. It is quite telling as well, as our performance has always been very strong, and frankly deservedly so.
Take for example our 3 most committed drivers: Shifty Muslim, Born KIA and myself. The combined distance driven in our Ferraris is well over 47,000 miles. Now lets put that in context - the last track we raced at was Sunset which is 2.78 miles long, so by now means a short circuit. Our distance equates to 16,908.47 laps of the track. Thats almost 17,000 laps. How long would it take to do this? Well 399.23 hours of continuous driving. Thats over 16.5 days!! This doesn't even include our whole team, as BELTABOY amongst others has also been working very hard, even practicing for races he can't make, to make sure he stays sharp and alert.
Our effort has been monumental. And I am so proud to be a part of a team, nay a family, like this. We all know what the task is, and all want to achieve.
Anyway carrying on to Sunset:
We race hard and try our best every race, but when SoloRedDevil comfortably outqualifies Born KIA, the man who has had 2 pole positions, you know that something is wrong. I missed out on pole position narrowly. Had my controller been working, and my screen stopped lagging terribly, I might have been able to take pole position, as my PB had been a 1:23.499. But this was not to be, so I had to make do with a difficult second on the outside of the grid. Shifty qualified well, just behind me, and yeah, we needn't talk about Born, who did nothing wrong himself.
I got the start I needed in the race and got alongside Jonny but on his outside, he braked to late for the first corner and I switched back on him. I then held the lead, it would have been nice if Shifty could have got up in the fight to, but I really can't blame him for not being able to. Anyway about an hour in I made one mistake and all I had to do was lift in the first fast chicane which was it, I lost the lead to Jonny and that was it, he was gone. I dropped to about 500ft down in about 5 laps, and then I had to try something, so I just got my head together and pushed to the very limit of my ability as a driver. The car really didn't like it at all, the setup was all wrong, and I couldn't feel a thing with my controller. But I managed to claw him back (When I die I will have to ask God how that happened) and had the traffic been a bit kinder I may have been able to get close enough to make a move.
But it was not to be, and as of then my championship was over. It is no longer possible for me to win at Ferraris strongest track. So I let Shifty through, as he is our only hope to fend of Jonny. Its number 2 work for me from now on.
So on to Le Mans. And I'm not in a good mood so I'll keep it simple: I have a 100% Pole position + Win record there. I do not intend for it to change.
Wednesday: Heyo Peepos,
Ok, so, a lot of you might wonder what one does after such a poor start to the season? Well, the answer is simple, be sad about it for a bit, eat chocolate e.t.c, and then move on. It's important that I concentrate on the future now. I'm here to win some races, so that is what I will try to do! I haven't really run much at Nurburgring, I haven't made a tune, and have just been taking it easy. I will run an intensive session, and then from then on I will just get comfortable.
Being sad helps get stuff out your head, and chocolate tastes nice, both of which are good things. From now on my championship is simple: I want to win some races and I want Ferrari to win all 3 championships up for grabs. As a loyal warrior of the horse I will do my very best as usual.
Anyway, I will update this blog later on when I have some lovely things to add
Thursday: Hello again!
Ok, so testing has begun, and I am pleased to report it is all going swimmingly! I will run some more this evening to practice my raw pace at the track. But there is not much to report at the moment, I'm just settling into the weekend. Only Bam has qualified in the Corvette, so its difficult to judge how tough this weekend will be. Although he could be a good indicator of where the lobby 1/2 divide will be...
Anyway, thats all for now, I'll pick up later
Saturday Morning: Helloo, Just a short sentance!
So the qualifying is done and it has been a good result. Now it is time to put the race together, wish me luck
Very Early Sunday Morning: Hey guys,
So, success, finally A bit of a nail biter in the end after what had been relatively comfortable beforehand... Win number 10 is secured I lead from the start and Hayles felt gorgeous the whole way, absolutely, jaw-droppingly, magnificent! ( Do remember this is her 10th win as well ). So, I looked comfortable the whole way, until with 25 minutes to go Jester hit me in a really weird incident. This put me in a big hole. I had pulled 2,000ft on Shifty and Jonny but the gap went down all the way to the end, Shifty passed me with about 8 mins to go, but then made a couple of mistakes and I caught up and he let me past with about 5 mins to go. It left all 3 of us to cross the line within a few meters of each other in a spectacular finish. But Shifty and I did it, pulling off a nice 1-2. I would have liked to dedicate my 10th win to my long time partner - Hayley (My car), but it seems fitting that it goes to Shifty, who has been wonderful to me.
Anyway, I need sleep because I am exhausted, that was a difficult drive for sure! I suppose will-power pulled through, as I can't have driven a car with that damage like I did without some outside help.
<3 Good Night