A resilient Tolman eSports by HCR bounced back from a miserable outing in Montreal by battling to sixth position in the latest instalment of the iRacing VRS Endurance Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (25 July).
The sixth VRS Endurance round at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal (18 July) attracted a bumper entry of 104 teams from across the globe.
Qualifying suggested Tolman eSports was on for a solid result at the Canadian racetrack, situated on Île Notre-Dame in the Saint Lawrence Seaway, but the team ultimately found itself playing a rear-guard action outside of the top ten during the first 18 racing laps, when the #4 McLaren was rear-ended by a wayward Ferrari.
A dogged effort to fix the car proved futile and Tolman eSports by HCR registered its first DNF of Season 3 of the VRS Endurance Series.
However, the McLaren Customer Racing team regrouped and came back fighting in Round 7 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the USA (25 July).
Scott McCracken, Chris Bell and Anthony Simmons were determined to put on a good show against a relatively small, tightly-packed entry but were forced to rethink their strategy when a change in iRacing’s Balance of Performance (BoP) restricted the McLaren MP4-12C GT3’s ability to go long on a tank of fuel.
Tolman eSports by HCR had used the McLaren’s fuel efficiency to great effect in the early phase of the season, most notably winning the blue riband Spa 24 Hours after achieving a podium at Le Mans, but the BoP shift meant the team would have to unleash all of its pace to take points away from Indy.
Bell posted a time of 1m24.717s to qualify tenth and found plenty of grip and confidence in the cool early morning temperatures to breach the top six and drop the main pack at the start of the 180-minute endurance race.
There were some heart-in-the-mouth moments as other teams came to blows, forcing Bell off the track, but the Tolman eSports racer avoided all contact and handed a clean car to McCracken at the end of a solid 43-lap stint.
Troublesome traffic defined the second hour; McCracken executed a breath-taking, opportunistic move for sixth around the outside of a bottled-up HTB Audi at Turn 8, but contact in an unrelated encounter with a lapped runner left the #4 McLaren with light damage.
After a full service on lap 87, Simmons posted a series of strong lap times in spite of the damage, chasing down the HTB Audi R8 of Drew Hansen on the congested racetrack, coming home in sixth to boost Tolman eSports by HCR’s points tally.
Scott McCracken (#4 Tolman eSports by HCR McLaren MP4-12C GT3): “We bounced back well from a difficult time in Montreal. After the crash in Canada, I was happy we kept the car mostly clean and scored some good points at Indy. Tolman eSports by HCR worked really hard and we were able to show some good speed, in spite of the recent Balance of Performance adjustments, so Silverstone should be a good round for us. We’re really looking forward to that!”