Tolman eSports by HCR found more pace and demonstrated an ability to run with the world’s most established sim racing teams in only its second race in the iRacing VRS Endurance Series at Road America (Sunday 31 May).
The three-hour enduro at the historic Wisconsin racetrack served as a warm-up for Tolman eSports by HCR’s first full-time campaign in the forthcoming third season of the 2020 VRS Endurance Series.
Super competitive testing times suggested the McLaren was well suited to Road America’s flat confines and warm ambient temperatures and filled the team with confidence that it could fight for a strong race result.
There were changes to the Tolman eSports driver line-up prior to the Road America race, with the McLaren Automotive Driver Development Programme’s Michael Benyahia partnering Chris Bell in the #4 car and Matthew Cartellone joining regulars Adam State and Scott McCracken in the #5.
As in the 3 Hours of Road Atlanta two weeks ago (Sunday 17 May), Tolman eSports made the top split along with many of the world’s most esteemed sim racing teams, refined setups helping Benyahia and State qualify in the top half of the massive 57-car field.
Despite the unearthly 6:00am start-time, Benyahia and State were both quick off the mark, the former rising one position to 16th and the latter picking off eight rivals to break into the top 20 during a spectacular opening lap.
Tolman eSports by HCR held position until lap three when Benyahia was overcome by excessive oversteer and span. The real-world McLaren racer avoided the walls but was unsighted by State in the sister #5 car and a hefty shunt forced both cars back to the pits.
Benyahia and Bell eventually returned to the race and put in dogged stints to take their hobbled MP4-12C to the chequered flag in 34th, and their pace inspires confidence for Tolman eSports’ first full-time iRacing season.
Chris Bell (#4 Tolman eSports by HCR McLaren MP4-12C GT3): “While the result was neither what we expected nor deserved, we were able to show that we have made progress with the McLaren MP4-12C GT3. The work the guys have done to give us a car capable of a top result is a credit to them and their efforts. Luck clearly wasn’t with us at Road America, but it was a privilege to race alongside Michael (Benyahia) and to be able to combine our sim and real-world racing experiences. We now have the opportunity to reflect on the ground we have covered while eagerly awaiting the release of the VRS Endurance Series Season 3 calendar for 2020. I’d like to say thank you once again for all the efforts made by the team and I look forward to what is to come.”
Adam State (#5 Tolman eSports by HCR McLaren MP4-12C): “For the first two laps I was able to get through the field relatively quickly. On lap three, I found myself in a nightmare situation, with Michael (Benyahia) facing the wrong way at the exit of Turn 11. Other cars blocked my view and I had no time to react when they took avoiding action and contact was made. I feel like we had top ten pace before the incident so there are still some positives to take away into Season 3 of the VRS Endurance Series, our first full campaign with Tolman Motorsport.”