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Endurance Cup S3: Behind the Scenes at the Finale

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Misano, situated on the sunny Adriatic coast, is always a favourite track by drivers and spectators alike at SimGrid. Only a couple of weeks after we visited the circuit for the opener of Sprint Cup Season 4, it played host to the finale of Season 3 of the Endurance Cup. The 3-hour race saw competitors driving as the sun not only set on the track but on their seasons.

Looking back on not only the season finale but the season itself, we spoke to members of some of our teams from Split 1 about their experiences.

James Parker – CDA/DAL/ACR #888

The #888 car managed its best finish of the season with a P5 result, elevating itself to P6 in the final standings, where they were tied on points with 5th placed SFR Italia. 

James told me that a clean race was one of the most important factors on the day, saying “Starting P15, the one key thing you always have to ensure first and foremost as a team is to keep your car out of trouble in the early laps. This allows you to take advantage of other peoples mishaps and you can build on your race from there.”

Consistency also aided the #888, having finished in the points in every race apart from the season-opener in Hungary. When asked what he thought the greatest asset to the team was this season, James replied “I would say our team spirit and raw race pace. We have struggled in qualifying sessions to nail laps, but in the race, we have always been a top 3 car on pure pace at the very least.” 

However, he feels like the results should have been even better, saying “In a field this close, any time you lose getting through the pack, is hard to gain back given how similar on pace everyone is.” Despite this, a strong end to the season would be a great way to sign out.

John Munro – Zansho Rocket Simsport #26

Misano is a happy hunting ground for the Bentley Continental GT3, and as such, it was given a hefty ballast of 30kg in order to keep the grid as competitive as possible. When asked about how this affected preparations, John says “It always has a slight effect on the way the car feels and therefore affects setup, but it doesn’t really change our approach. I think it was a fair weight penalty for us on the occasion as we still had top 3 race pace despite the 30KG!”

Despite qualifying less than 0.7 seconds slower than pole sitters Unicorns of Love, the competitiveness of the field meant that John started the race in 24th place. This meant that they would have to fight past any carnage that may occur in the midpack, but as they approached turn 4, that wouldn’t be so easy. The #66 Team Fordzilla Lexus RC F GT3, had been spun.

 In an attempt to rejoin, the Lexus span the car back around and collected several other cars. John had to put his reactions to the test stating, “I noticed very early on that people were facing the wrong way and my first instinct was to avoid damage at all costs, thankfully it turned out to be the right decision!” He cut across the grass, avoiding the carnage altogether. Avoiding such incidents is often the most difficult part of qualifying down in the pack, but this would pave the way to their 16th position finish.

Eamonn Murphy and Jaroslav Honzik – YAS HEAT Richard Mille #149

Despite not claiming the title, our reigning champions were still able to have a successful season, with three second places and a fourth at Misano. However, compared to Simware.Pro and Odox Motorsport, were not close enough to be able to retain their crown this season.

It seems that the two drivers are looking ahead to the future with their plans, with potentially a change of car on the horizon. As mentioned in SimGrid’s race report, there were a couple of different cars on their list to replace the Ferrari. Murphy mentioned that “Jardier’s thinking of the Aston” but, at the same time, he himself has “got a soft spot for the McLaren.” Of course, the highest-ranked Aston was the championship-winning car of Simware.Pro, but the highest-ranked McLaren was the RennWelten Ambassadors #995 in P16. Car choice is one of the toughest decisions to make, but a good choice could see the pairing return to winning ways in races to come.

Yaroslav Shevyrtalov and Egor Ogorodnikov – Simware.Pro #41

We certainly weren’t going to finish without hearing from our champions, were we? Simware.Pro was the only team to finish all 5 races on the podium this season, with 3 of them being on the top step such as here in Misano.

Firstly, Shevyrtalov was surprised to qualify in third! In an interview after the race, he said “we thought this track was not very good for Aston Martins, but the balance [of performance] very much changed the strengths of the car” and made the pack a lot closer. Ogorodnikov agreed with his teammate, adding “the car was just awesome!”

Speaking to Ogorodnikov a few days after the race, he was very collected and analytical when looking ahead. He explained how the Endurance Cup served “as a training championship for the Sim Grid X VCO World Cup,” meaning they came into each race with the mindset of maximising each race. “It helped us!” he explains “We are in the lead in the Sim Grid X VCO World Cup!” Looking ahead to future championships, he was clear what was the goal for Simware.Pro. “Only to fight for victory!”

The pairing’s only concern seemed more to be with logistics than anything to do with the car or the setup. “I’m also a real driver” explained Shevyrtalov after the race, “and right now I do not know my timetable.” He remains optimistic that he will be able to return to the fold to help Simware.Pro retain their crown, as is Ogorodnikov who added “I hope Yaroslav could take part in next season!”

That’s a wrap from Misano and a wonderful Season 3 of the Endurance Cup by Thrustmaster. Be sure to stay tuned as we will see more action in Season 4 of our Sprint Cup, as well as various events from our communities.