Different types of sim racing require different skillsets. Sprint races need more aggression (within reason), as the driver has less time to make moves happen or recover from a mistake. Rallying requires a huge amount of concentration, determination and a big amount of lunacy to drive sideways along roads at 150 KPH or more, lined with trees or huge drops. Endurance races need patience and….well, endurance, the energy to keep your concentration for several hours at a time, which is hard enough when driving on public roads at the normal speed limit for hours on end, but in racing conditions, it can be difficult to maintain a level head, especially when things don’t go well during the race.
Such circumstances were experienced by Rocket Simsport at the Mobileye Intercontinental GT Challenge 8 hours of Indianapolis race. Rocket, who are competing in this series in the Silver category, had qualified the Honda NSX 5th in class, and 11th on the grid, which was packed with some of the very best drivers and teams in the ACC world, so Rocket were looking forward to a good result, judging by their pace. Drivers Elvin Smith and Kieran Prendergast were representing the Rocket squad in this race, and Smith took the start, however, the team were involved in a three-wide moment at turn four, which sent the Honda into a spin and an impact with another car, eventually dropping Smith outside of the top 40.
So not even two minutes into an eight-hour race, the car is wounded and the great efforts in qualifying already nullified, the team now has to rely on their skill to drive the car in conditions that are far less familiar to the drivers, certainly until the first pit stop. But they still have hours to recover, right? Whilst that is true, the team’s frustration is no less palpable. All the hours of practice, all the time perfecting the setup of the car, discussing strategies, finding the optimal lines and braking points, all feels wasted within seconds of the start, and not just for the driver in the car at the time, but also for the teammates taking part in the race, and also the organisation being represented.
For the rest of the race, the Rocket Simsport Honda changed hands between Smith and Prendergast, and they did the best they could throughout the rest of the race, but it is always difficult to refocus following an incident, and as the race entered its final 12 minutes, Smith was caught up in a final incident where, whilst being lapped by the leaders, he got tangled with the Triton Bentley, who was in 2nd place. Whilst Triton still came home in 2nd place, the contact caused the Bentley to fall over 10 seconds behind the eventual race-winning Veloce McLaren. The Rocket team were handed a stop-go penalty, and the Honda came home in 31st position in the end.
The chequered flag was not the end of the issue though. Because of the manner of the final incident (which was not seen by the main stream), Smith was called out for unsportsmanlike conduct, for heavily defending against a car coming to lap him, and Rocket Simsport made a public announcement following the incident:
SRO IGTC Esports yesterday’s actions from our driver Elvin Smith are not something we at Rocket Simsport management take lightly
We work hard on driver’s mentality and work ethic, and yesterday we essentially had a bad day at the office
Elvin Smith has been suspended from taking part in the next round of the SRO IGTC Esports series whilst continuing to race for us in other series
If deemed to have improved, he will be back into the car at the following round, representing the team at the highest level of Assetto Corsa Competizione
We would like to publicly apologise to the organisers, teams and drivers of the series
We will come back stronger
We have mentioned before the importance of properly representing yourself as a driver and the organisation you are driving for, and Rocket is showing what can happen when the standards of the organisation are not properly represented by the driver.