Tolman eSports by HCR achieved a top five result in the iRacing VRS Endurance Series 3 Hours of Monza, but also laid strong foundations for a successful assault on the British GT eSports Championship at Road Atlanta (Sunday 14 June).
Inter-season Balance of Performance (BoP) adjustments, revised suspension limits and new tyre compounds kept Tolman eSports busy in VRS Endurance Series testing, and the team’s efforts to optimise its trio of McLaren MP4-12C GT3s paid dividends.
The entire 53-car field was spread by just 2.5s in the searing heat of qualifying, Enar Mariinsky in the #4 McLaren leading the Tolman eSports charge from third, just 0.194s adrift of pole, with Adam State placing the #6 car in 20th and Dan Durance slotting #5 into 34th position.
Mariinsky pressed for the lead off the line but was forced wide as the pack negotiated the super tight Rettifilo chicane, while State in #6 kept his nose clean and avoided a spectacular eight-car incident to emerge from the first lap in 12th.
After running across the gravel at Turn 1, Mariinsky recovered to third while saving enough fuel to go all the way to lap 32, beyond the capabilities of the Ferrari contingent, as per Tolman eSports’ original strategy.
Similarly, Scott McCracken and Chris Bell’s stints in #4 were primarily about fuel and tyre conservation, the former completing 32 faultless laps to place the latter in P4 with a Ferrari 488 looming large in his rear-view mirrors.
State, meanwhile, held station in 12th for the duration of the first hour, but a decision to pit the #6 McLaren early meant James Brown benefited from a clear track and breached the top ten during a trouble-free run.
During the final third of the race, Bell upped the pace in an attempt to stave off the Ferrari threat in the battle for P4, but fuel was marginal and a small cough from his McLaren was enough to break Tolman eSports’ defences rounding the Parabolica on the last lap.
Ultimately, the #4 crew lost track position within sight of the chequered flag, but fifth was a welcome result and a strong start to the new VRS Endurance season, especially as the hard charging #6 pairing of State and Brown doggedly pushed their way up to eighth overall with just two laps remaining.
Further back, the #5 car took rear-end damage and tumbled to 46th in the early exchanges, but running repairs conducted during the team’s first driver-change enabled Durance and Gordon Anderson to climb back up to 32nd in the final classification.
Scott McCracken (#4 Tolman eSports by HCR McLaren MP4-12C GT3): “I’m extremely pleased with the result. It was a shame to lose out so close to the finish, but I think we can be very happy with the McLaren’s balance and pace. It’s a really good start to the championship.”
Chris Bell (#4 Tolman eSports by HCR McLaren MP4-12C GT3): “This is what we have being working towards in pre-season testing. We were finally able to show some real speed and it’s great to see all three entries take the chequered flag, with two inside the top ten.”
Elsewhere, Tolman eSports by HCR lies sixth in the British GT eSports Championship standings following two solid performances at Road Atlanta in the USA (Sunday 14 June).
A late call to action meant drivers had only a week to prepare for the British GT eSports opener on the undulating Road Atlanta circuit, but SGR Yuuko, SGR Phloofy and SGR Eresh’s relative inexperience with the McLaren 570S GT4 was countered by clever pit strategies and some sublime driving.
Against a mammoth field of 105 drivers from 53 teams, Tolman eSports completed both 25-lap races on the edge of the top ten overall with the 570S GT4 of SGR Yuuko, and the results provide all three drivers with solid foundations for Rounds 3 and 4 of the championship at Hockenheim in Germany (Sunday 28 June).