NEO 24H Series Barcelona report

by Ciaran Roche

Coming into the penultimate round of the 24H Endurance Series XVR Sim Racing were last in the 911 GT3 Cup class after incidents and back luck in some of the previous rounds. This round was to be different. Despite little practice Johnny Brandon displayed all the progress XVR has made with the Car by sticking it on pole in one of the most competitive series on iracing.

However, this proved a difficult position to maintain, and at the end of lap one Aurys Racing Team’s Carlos Fenollosa slipped past into the lead. Despite best efforts XVR could not hold onto the back of Aurys for long and fell into a battle with championship leaders Inertia SimRacing, Inertia Simracing and Go Team Racing for the remaining two podium positions. This battle and the three different strategies at play were to provide the narrative for XVR’s race.

Johnny Brandon and George McLay decided to take only two tyres every second stop, replacing the hard working right front and right rear tyres. Inertia were managing to fuel save, meaning they would take one less stop, while Go Team Racing attempted to save a stop but ended up needing a splash and dash before the end.

As with most 24H races, this race was marked early on by multi-class congestion bordering on the chaotic. Four classes of tin top cars, each with different top speeds, closing speeds and cornering speeds all attempting to balance the need to chop through traffic while staying safe.

As the traffic thinned out, the differing strategies of the 911 Cup Class kept everyone guessing how the order would pan out after the final round of stops. However, with an hour to go a spin coming out of the final corner damaged XVR’s chances for a podium. The spin left them it a final hour chase on its hands to catch Inertia Sim Racing’s two cars.

In the end XVR managed a season best 4th place, coming home less than 10 seconds off a first podium despite incredible consistency by the two drivers and an extra stop over most of the field. This serves to highlight the quality of the field in this year’s 24H series, and underlines how impressive the pole position lap was.

Elsewhere Biela Racing Team Euronics took a third successive GT3 race win, Pure Sims won the GT4 class and MSI Esports – TCR finished first among the TCR class. In the 911 Cup Class Aurys Racing Team won, cutting further into Inertia SimRacing’s championship lead.
The final round of the championship will be the 12 hours of Spa on the 17th April. XVR will be wanting to build upon its impressive showing last weekend to finish off its debut 24H Season with momentum.

XVR score double podium @Philip Island

by Ciaran Roche

The XVR Sim Racing Duo of Johnny Brandon and George McLay stormed to a third straight win in the ASR Endurance Championship to extend their lead in the standings. The duo were followed home by JLR Racing and the XVR Black team of Steve Le Vallee and Richard Warmingham, completing another successful outing for the XVR stable.

At a Phillip Island circuit blanketed in fog XVR showed its pace from the off, locking out the front row of the grid and gapping most of the field early on. Worries about slipstreaming and marginal calls on fuel meant XVR split its strategy between the two cars, with the XVR Sim Racing car on pole opting for one more top than the rest of the grid.

Championship rivals PorscheSport hit trouble early on through incidents with the faster GT1 class, putting them well down the order and out of contention for the win. This set the tone for a race characterised by incidents between the different classes and competing fuel strategies.

While Johnny Brandon pulled away from the field, XVR Black found itself locked in a battle with JLR Racing driven by Justin Lugo. JLR inherited second place when XVR Black stalled in the pits. He then showed impressive and consistent pace to stay there for the remained of the race, causing some worries for the lead car.

Jonny Brandon and George McLay managed the gap as the alternative strategies panned out, keeping the rest of the Porsche Cup class at arms length. However the impressive pace of rival JLR Racing added a sense of jeopardy mid way through the race. The early lead built up by Jonny and George would have to be maintained and extended to allow for the extra fuel stop.

As with most endurance races the race was won through traffic and tyre management. XVR Sim Racing maintained its rapid pace for the full four hours, giving it an eventual margin of victory of 40 seconds.
Meanwhile the XVR Black team continued its successful campaign, securing yet another podium, finishing 14 seconds behind JLR Racing, putting it securely into contention for second place in the championship following some early season difficulties.

After the race George McLay said “We are delighted with that! It was close – we questioned ourselves with the strategy there” going on to say “there was a bit of a panic half way through the race if we have picked the right strategy”. Johnny Brandon echoed George’s comments, saying that Lugo’s pace in second caused some concern, but that it all worked out in the end.

The championship will conclude on 10th April at Circuit Spa Francorchamps where XVR Sim Racing will be hoping to close out a championship one two.