The Art of Cat Herding Pt3 (final) - Special Events

April 7, 2019

The iRacing Endurance special events are particularly challenging to organise for larger teams because they often involved multiple cars for the team,often different types and drivers with different abilities, time constraints etc.

 

Within BAM and Kinetic, we've been through a number of different ways and processes to organise them and we've finally settled on a process I'm comfortable that works as well as possible.

 

The process can be broken down into 4 phases

- Planning - this sets up the event, finds out which drivers are available, what cars they want to drive, which timeslot (iRacing's multiple timeslots for races are often a complication) and allows the team manager to decide on a provisional line-up of cars and drivers

- Scheduling and Testing - this prepares for the event, get setups created, tested and finalised, determines race strategies (stint lengths, issues like can tyres be double stinted) etc and allows the car captains to schedule stints for each driver/spotter, who registers the car (an important factor because that determines the split the car is in) and make any last minute adjustments to the schedule.

- The race itself

- Post race - race reports, analysis of performance, document learnings etc

 

We've created a checklist (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1C7-INIzROX1pXU7dDBX9Louf7FJUJ3BewdLfdPKSZes/edit?usp=sharing) which contains a generic checklist and then a specific one for the race. The one in the link is the completed one we used for the Sebring 12 hour

 

We also use a schedule sheet (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Yq0BIZCKVR7Y7MDa5wBWKwULvZZNIweRxwFwPOZvbA0/edit?usp=sharing) which allows me to publish the car line-ups and then the drivers to fill in their exact availability and the car captains to schedule the stints. We also use these sheets to document the drivers fuel usage, calculate stint lengths. During the race we update the "Live plan" column which the actual GMT times each drive stint starts - this makes it easier to work out the end race tactics on pit stops. The "live plan"column will also be used for future events to show the track ToD - to help the drivers see what conditions they need to practice in.

 

Some theories about driver combos:

 

What we've found is that it's always better to group people into roughly groups that are the same speed. So, within Kinetic now, we have 3 loose groups - the really fast guys that have committed to put in the time & effort to improve themselves as much as possible and push for good results in high splits (we don't have anyone in Kinetic with a high enough iRating to get into top splits of races, although we'd often have cars capable of decent results in them), a second group of faster than average people may not have the time to put in the really extreme amount of testing the 1st group does, or that haven't yet fully proved themselves within the team in endurance races and then a "development group of slower, less experienced drivers that race mainly to gain experience.

This setup seems to work well - it's fairly easy to set and understand the objectives of each car and because most cars are balanced, it doesn't put pressure on people to try to be as fast as their super fast team-mate (or conversely, for faster drivers to feel they must make up time for the slower guys).

 

As an example of how important this balance is, perhaps the most disappointing result Kinetic had last year was in the Majors 24 where due to the rules of the event (which I wrote!), we had fairly unbalanced cars. We could, and probably should, have won both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes but mistakes by people pushing too hard to either try to get as big an advantage as possible for the slower people in the team, or the slower guys pushing harder than they should have to try to get close to the lap times of the faster people meant we lost time (in some cases a lot!) in the pits repairing the cars. We still got good results, but they should have been better.

 

You also need to take into account people that work well together. Marc and Mattias have done 3 season together in DGFX and almost always race together in the special events because they like driving with each other, are similar speeds (and don't worry if one out performs the other at particular events). But, occasionally we do force them to do a race apart just to keep them on their toes :-)

 

If you have a development car, you probably want to have one driver who's got a bit more experience to help the newer guys, even if he/her is quicker. I often take that role in Kinetic's development car, I enjoy running with the slower guys and it also helps take a bit of practising pressure off me because of all the admin I need to do - I don't need to practice as much to get to competitive times for that car as I would for some of the others.

 

I'm sure I've missed some stuff but hit me on Discord if there's anything I can help with.

 

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