The cry has been heard, followed by the roar of V8s and the squeal of tortured rubber on tarmac.
“Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!”
Last season’s outing for Robert Graf ended pretty well in the iRacing sim based German NASCAR series, so after finishing his rookie full season in a very respectable position, the new series starts at Daytona, oddly, with the final outing of the familiar simFlight liveried Chevy Impala. Following a number of recent previews and announcements, iRacing are soon to release new versions of the Chevy which will also be joined by a new Ford Fusion as well.
Want to find out how Robert did? Well his new role as race reporter for the series means that you can read both the official race report and Robert’s own thoughts by clicking “Read more“, below.
Finally, season start is here. “Gentleman start your engines” could be heared all over Daytona Speedway as the V8-engines coughed to life. This was the last race the (old) Chevy Impala would be used and what a tribute to that car it was.
Florian Kirchhofer got to the lead early, but already in lap 2 the first yellow flag flew. Fabian Kloth triggered that feared big one and according to his own statement “tried to find a rock to hide under” afterwards. After the restart Florian Kirchhofer and Robert Graf started to get away from the field. Only Hauke Grotheer and Stefan Lippert could keep up and battle for the lead.
Around lap 50 it was time for green flag pitstops. Robert Graf got in 1 lap before Florian Kirchhofer did and came out of it without a drafting partner. Florian Kirchhofer, on the other hand, had teammate Hauke Grotheer right there and continued to lead the race. Robert Graf got help from Stefan Lippert (lapped at this time) and a caution, caused by rookie Rocco Rost, got him back in the game. After the restart Robert Graf resumed the lead in lap 65, Florian Kirchhofer now again his drafting buddy.
Florian Kirchhofer and Hauke Grotheer came in early on the next pitstop right before lap 80. Robert Graf and Stefan Lippert continued up to lap 105 instead, Robert Graf collecting the bonus point for the most lead laps. After that pitstop Robert Graf is left without drafting partner again and loses his chance to win the race.
Florian Kirchhofer brings home his first win of the season with Hauke Grotheer in 2nd as fellow companion. Robert Graf scores a disappointing 3rd. Sebastion Lohse and Andreas Wilke battle their way to 4th and 5th in the second half of the race. Lippert, Przybilski, Leemann, Peters and Tageselle complete the TOP10.
So this means lead in points for Florian Kirchhofer and team HPM. This counts as a bad omen, cause in his own words “i have never won a chamionshop, if i won Daytona”. We’ll see if that holds true. Phoenix is next!
My own view
As ever in Daytona I had high hopes and this was confirmed throughout the race. The car was perfect and drafting seems the thing I can do best. Sadly, after the caution in lap 2 all my teammates were gone (damaged or DNF) and I had to search for other drafting partners. Which is a hard thing to do, when you had no practice with them.
The first green flag pitstop was a missunderstanding (or strategy by Florian), I thought he was already empty when he had still a lap of fuel left. Luckily the yellow brought me close again. On the second green pitstop my drafting partner, Stefan, had not lowered his fuel amount for the short distance remaining, so he stayed in the pits, while I was on my own again. The field was quite dragged out by that point, no cars to draft around. So I couldn’t do any more. 3rd is good, but I’m really dissappointed, cause these chances for a win are so rare for me.