Nick Tandy says a new approach in setup and extra help from real-life sim racers has helped raise Porsche’s game in the IMSA iRacing Pro Series.
The Englishman claimed victory in Thursday’s round at virtual Road America, breaking BMW’s three-race win streak in IMSA’s top-level esports competiton.
It came in a dominant run for he and teammate Ayhancan Güven, who appeared to be en route to a second place finish until the Porsche Junior got collected by a spinning Ferrari with 20 minutes to go.
Tandy, in his third start in the IMSA Pro Series, credited a change in car setup and an emphasis on qualifying as two of the biggest steps forward.
“I’m a hobby sim racer; my main driving style is still based around what I do in the real car,” Tandy explained.
“Through talking to a few people and learning a bit more about the the hardware involved with sim racing, I’ve got the new got some new equipment and and bits and pieces and different settings. I’ve really managed to get handle on setting the car up to to how I drive the car.”
Tandy revealed that he and fellow Porsche factory driver Laurens Vanthoor largely utilized gamer-to-racer Güven’s setups in the rounds at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and Mid-Ohio, which saw unrepresentative results of 25th and 48th, respectively, after early race incidents for the No. 911 Porsche.
“These last couple of weeks, I think the difference is that I’ve managed to come up with my kind of direction on how I want the car to handle and it’s really helped me,” Tandy said.
“Qualifying is key in the IMSA iRacing Pro Series because you have to have a clean race.
“That was something we put a big emphasis in the last couple of weeks. To be second and third on the grid was pretty good.”
Tandy has also credited 2019 Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup champion Joshua Rogers, who served as his crew chief in Thursday’s race.
“He’s one of the top sim racers in the world,” Tandy said. “I got to know him at a sim event Porsche put on a few years back where we actually teamed up to race together.
“We’ve held a friendship since.
“He’s been really helping me, and Team VRS that he works with has been helping us at Porsche with some setup directions and bits and pieces to just get us a leg up on figuring out what a driver needs from the sim.
“It’s been really helpful and it was great to have Josh in my corner during the race in calming me down.
“It make it so much easier when you don’t have to think about your own pit strategy, when you’ve got someone else to do it and you can concentrate on trying to keep it on the track.”
Porsche Now Taking IMSA iRacing Pro Series “Very Seriously”
Tandy said BMW’s early dominance forced Porsche to up its game in the events since.
“I think when it’s started or maybe the first couple of rounds it was looked upon as something that the teams and the drivers and some of the manufacturers could get involved with as a way of keeping people active and going racing and and enjoying the racing aspects of it,” Tandy explained.
“That all changed once BMW won the first two races quite convincingly.
“A couple of people from Porsche side turned around and said, ‘Look if we are participating in this then we want to be competitive and ultimately we want to beat our opposition. This is why we go racing in any form of sport.'”
“The way we went about it changed, the pressure has changed.
“From our side, we’ve had help from top guys in the sim racing world, the virtual racing school and we’ve been putting a lot of work and hours, more or less every day, we’re doing something.
“It’s treated just like a proper race event. From the Porsche side, if we enter something we want to do it properly.
“I was one of the ones that got roped in because I was forthcoming and said I had a sim and I do the racing. But having this result makes it absolutely worthwhile.
“It’s my first win of the year; it’s Porsche’s first win of the year. No matter what series it’s in, it’s IMSA-sanctioned and it’s against proper manufacturers and teams so we’ll definitely take this as a victory.”