24 Hour Le Mans challenge pt.1

I needed to do this. I had to get it over and done with once and for all.

What better time than NOW, minutes after the end of the 2014 Le Mans?

What is this, you ask? It is playing Test Drive Le Mans on the Dreamcast for 24 hours straight for the first time, whilst simultaneously publishing the log (with hourly-ish status updates once the race begins) here on AR.

I acquired a copy of the game a year or two ago for a ridiculously insignificant amount of CAN$. When I saw it I couldn’t pass up the chance to grab this gem; I have always wanted to race for 24 hours… for Le Mans. And since I may not actually pull that off in real life any time EVER, what could beat dusting off my Dreamcast and putting it to the test of running for at least 24 hours?

Sure, some might suggest doing Le Mans in Gran Tourismo 6 on the PS3′, but I don’t own that nor do I own a PS3. So DREAMCAST DELIGHT IT IS!

I’ll start from the moment I got the ”inspiration” of finally going ahead with this personal challenge, right through to the time I finish/am forced to retire (I sure hope that doesn’t happen, but since I haven’t played the game for more than a lap or two since I got it, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE).

NOTE: All times are UTC – 5 hours.

LOG ENTRY 001
Saturday June 14, 09:21
What’s this? Le Mans is THIS weekend?

Had it not been for Top Gear’s facebook link to their live coverage I would have missed it entirely, because what can I say, I suck this much with any sports. Including those I like. Not that I’m a fan of Mans, or racing. I just have a fascination with cars and racing. But Le Mans holds a special place in my heart. IT’S COMPLICATED.

Ah, but it looks like I’ll be missing all of it since I gotta sleep before I go work again tonight! On the bright side… this has given me  the drive to pull off a Le Mans race on the Dreamcast. I shall do this whenever I wake up Sunday.

LOG ENTRY 002
Sunday June 15, 08:54
Finally, made it home from my weekend of graveyard shifts only to catch the last 5 minutes and 9 seconds of the 2014 Le Mans… and two Audi R18 e-tron quattros make it in first and second position for LMP1! I’m quite happy about that. I’ve been a fan of Audi since my discovery of the R10 a few years ago. What a masterpiece that machine is.

LOG ENTRY 003
Sunday June 15, 09:57
I’m still up, too excited about tonight! I’ll set up my Dreamcast; that should calm me. At least everything will be ready when I jump out of bed in 6 or 8 hours. Then I should eat a bit I guess. Can’t race for 24 hours on an empty stomach, now can I?

LOG ENTRY 004
Sunday June 15, 11:03
Great, I’ve had the Dreamcast ready for a while now but I’ve been distracted by Facebook  for about an hour. I’m slightly disturbed by a post from a friend (whom I shall refer to as ”Krupa”) to the point where I felt the only way I could express myself adequately in reply to said post was creating a meme. Hey, it’s one of those times where no words, images, or already existing combinations of both can get the job done… so you have to create the proper combination yourself.

I just booted the Dreamcast and should probably get a bit of a ”test run” going to get a feel for the game. GOTTA GET READY FOR THE BIG RACE! Sorry for caps, I get excited easily when tired, or just in general. Or just whenever. DON’T JUDGE ME.

LOG ENTRY 005
Sunday June 15, 12:12
After 5 laps of Quick Race and 3 laps of Time Attack, I can say this is likely going to be the most taxing gaming experience I’ll have ever faced. That’s completely aside from the fact that I’ll be ”gaming” for 24 hours or more. I have never really been a racing game wiz, though I can handle myself. Still, not even a lap into the Quick Race I knew this game was going to be unforgiving… and that’s coming from a guy who has managed to be decent at games like Sega Rally and Wipeout. I know I have to sleep at some point, but I still have that need for speeds of over 300 km/h.

The game looks dated, even more so with a VGA box, but it manages to still feel amazing when it comes to the sense of speed! The sounds aren’t too bad too, all things considered.

LOG ENTRY 006
Sunday June 15, 14:39
OK. I think I’ll go to bed right about now-ish, after a shower, sleep at least 15 hours, then have a hearty breakfast and start the race around 07:00.

LOG ENTRY 007
Monday June 16, 05:45
Out of bed and half awake from 13 hours of sleep (I didn’t entirely go to bed right after that 6th log entry). It’s a nice sunny morning here in Montreal and I’m crossing my fingers for similar weather conditions for the race, which I’ll set up to be ”varied”, so who knows! Still, I’m planning on sporting a set of soft tires from the start. Let’s hope this gamble pays off. For now though, I’ll go out and have a walk, have breakfast, enjoy some fresh air… for this will be the last time in 24 hours I’ll have the chance to do so!

LOG ENTRY 008
Monday June 16, 07:06
Now that I’m back from my energizing walk (and breakfast), I’m ready to put my mettle to the test (drive)! Wow, I’m not even sleep deprived yet and here I am throwing bad puns about. I can hardly wait to see how bad this will get in 18 hours…

All right! Time to pick a car. Oh, presenting me with the Audi R8C by default? DON’T MIND IF I DO! How fitting. Too bad it’s not remotely as awesome as the R8R or the R8… man I sure like a challenge.

While I doubt I’ll honor the team with a performance worthy of their name, it’s not like I have an R10 to pull this off with!

Difficulty for the race? Hmmm, let’s go with Expert! No assists, top AI. BRING IT!

—– RACE START —–

LOG ENTRY 009
Monday June 16, 07:30
A blue Monday begins… in heavy rain. As I get in position during the rolling start, I debate whether I should pull it off for as long as I can with those soft tires or make it to the pits as soon as possible to switch. No matter what I pick, I’ll be burdened with a handicap for the rest of the race. The question is, which call will be the LEAST handicapping one? I don’t know. Guess I’ll flip a coin! Heads I keep my soft tires, tails I switch before the end of the first lap (can I even do that? Are there penalties for that? BAH! Who cares! LET’S DO THIS).

Aaand it’s Tails. Well, that takes care of that. WISH ME LUCK.

It's pouring on me, it's pouring on you.

Unholy water

LOG ENTRY 010
Monday June 16, 08:38
14 laps in and over several millions of pounds worth of Audi R8C later (I’d have probably “wrecked” two dozen of ’em ‘if the game registered damage), I’m finally getting comfortable on this track and, if all goes well, I should be in pole by lap 25! Haha, who am I kidding, I’ve secured 14th position only by passing cars of lower tiers. The lead seems to be stretching out of reach as the race goes on, despite my times getting better.

On another note, I sure am grateful towards lady luck for having made me switch tires on lap 1. That first lap was beyond horrible. It’s still raining and I have half a tank of fuel left; I’m not going as fast as I could, but am betting on fuel-efficient driving to get me to win laps in the long run. I might actually win this! Ah, look at me, one hour in and already thinking big. Perseverance, patience and discipline will get me through!

LOG ENTRY 011
Monday June 16, 09:43
Got to 8th position, but then my fuel ended up flashing red-low. I didn’t want to take chances and went for a change of tires as well. From the looks of it, though, maybe I could have gone one extra lap with that amount of fuel. I’ll boldly attempt to do so next time. With the pit stop, I dropped to 12th position by the beginning of lap 22, but that’s to be expected.

By the beginning of lap 23, I had gone back up to 10th.

It’s still pouring like mad here, but by this point I’ve gotten used to the rain. What I HAVEN’T gotten used to is the AI. If by ”Expert” they mean ”Expert at being JERKS” then I’ll agree. Their driving seems on par with what you’d expect from ace pilots who know the track (except for some cornering), but if you’re any near them they’ll not care at all. Consider this either poor AI or poor driving ethics on my part (maybe I shouldn’t try to overtake on the outside of a hairpin…) but I’ve been slammed off-track twice so far, and I stopped counting the amount of times I’ve been bumped into! Assholes…

probably jerking off at the wheels too.

To our left, we have a jerk – being a jerk – in the rain.

LOG ENTRY 012
Monday June 16, 10:53
Hmm. As I switch back to my PC to write this log entry, I realise my PC is displaying a black screen and I notice it’s now restarting. Perhaps I’ll place my Dreamcast somewhere else other than on top of it to minimize overheating. Yeah, that might be a good idea. It’s sitting right on the computer’s PSU.

By the end of lap 36 I had to switch from index to middle finger to accelerate since the index started feeling numb. Lap 37 was a bit of a disaster as a result, as it conveniently also happened to be the moment my tires started showing signs of wear. I span out of control twice.

Things got better though! A third into lap 40 and I’ve secured… 3rd place! This shouldn’t last long as I’m a lap away from being low on fuel, meaning 2 or 3 laps from a pit stop.

LOG ENTRY 013
Monday June 16, 11:55
I’m now 2nd, and half way through lap 53, a mere 33.999 seconds away from the leader. I can do this.

The moment I saw I was now closing in with my time I got a little excited, and drifted out of control a few times in a lap, but I went from being 40 seconds behind to 34 seconds by the end of lap 55. I’m closing in on him. I have a little more than half a tank of fuel left and things are looking good.

I encountered a couple more asses on the way, but I MIGHT have caused what could have been a massive accident somewhere in lap 48 (if, again, the game would have had the ability to register damage) when I rammed with full force into the behind of a Porsche that was in the process of being overtaken by some other car, just before two curves. Three driver deaths right there, I’m certain of it. No way we’d have survived me running into them 100 km/h over their speed… it’s kind of their fault though, they slammed the brakes WAY too early before those curves, geez…

LOG ENTRY 014
Monday June 16, 13:00
The sun is starting to set, with in-game time being a bit past 20:15, and I’m now going through lap 66. I got the lead early on in lap 65, but soon lost it because I was VERY low on fuel. It’s alright, though, because HE has to stop for pit soon and I’m now 24 seconds away from him. I’d say by the time I need to stop for pit again, I’ll have enough time ahead of me to be in lead (or close to it) when I roll out of the pits.

Can’t get distracted, though. Speaking of which, I’ve almost hit a wall twice so far as the sky began to clear and the scenery proved to be prettier than I expected! It’s still raining, but lightly now, so I think my next set of tires won’t be a wet set next time I have to stop for a change of wheels.

In other news, I’m hungry… but since I’m the only one driving, I’ll have to pause this for a bit and grab a bite. Then, MORE RACING. But for now, SCREENSHOTS GALORE!

I can't find my shades.

O pretty sun, why must you distract me so?

Less than 2 seconds away from the leader.

I THINK I have about one more lap of fuel left.

... for now.

And there goes my lead.

too bad I'm busy being on my way to win a Le Mans

My, this weather would be perfect for a romantic stroll.

—– THE ‘LE MANS’ RATION —–

Are YOU playing a video-game right now?
Are YOU racing in a 24 hours Le Mans?
Did you FORGET to pack lunch(es)?
FEAR NOT! For I got the meal(s) for you!

The (not) certified ‘Le Mans’ Ration will make your stomach roar with anticipation for MORE RACING, not from HUNGER, once you’re done with it! And it is ALMOST guaranteed to KEEP YOU FULL FOR HOURS. OR 4 HOURS. (Results may vary.)

Made by champions for champions.

A meal of champions.

So get off your ass and run to a nearby store! Grab these basic things if you don’t already have them! (Though you should, that’s basic stuff everyone and your mom has. In fact if you still live with your mom, go ask her for some of these things RIGHT NOW.)

– BEANS (any type is fine; I suggest a mixed bean blend for extra variety)

– OLIVES (any type is fine, I suggest black olives because they rock, ”any type” also includes NO OLIVES for those of you sorry losers who hate olives [except you, my love! You can not like olives all you want; YOU AREN’T A SORRY LOSER])

– SPICES (any type is fine; I suggest a personal blend of spices made by some friend of a friend who knows their spices. Turns your Le Mans Ration into more of a personal thing, making it feel less like a military-grade ration)

-SALSA (any type is fine, but I STRONGLY suggest not going with anything too spicy: you don’t want to have your butt explode in the middle of a lap, an hour away from your next pit stop… then again I GUESS you could pause the game but… whatever)

Preparation is simple: mix the f*** out of everything, and microwave to your liking. THE END.

Now EAT!

—– THE RACE RESUMES —–

LOG ENTRY 015
Monday June 16, 14:47
Done eating, done chatting a bit (read: a lot) with girlfriend; now back to racing!

LOG ENTRY 016
Monday June 16, 15:58
I had a 40 second lead by lap 74, but progressively started losing it as the track dried and by lap 77 it was clear I couldn’t keep those wet tires. I lost grip at nothing and, pairing that with №53’s douchebaggery (so far, 53 is top of my list of nominees for the ”Total Le Mans Douche” award), I got out of track 3 times.

By lap 81, I’d lose my lead. I can’t be second!!! But I also can’t keep going with the current set of wheels.

and another jerk in front of me.

We’ve got a clear night ahead of us.

I swear this guy has a death wish

To our right we have Douchey McDoucheface, being a douche.

At the end of lap 82 I made a judgement call: I still had one third of a fuel tank left, but went to the pits to switch to soft tires. It’s early in the evening and I should be good with them before the track temperature drops too much. I think?

It doesn’t harm to refuel while I’m there too. I lost a bit of time, but am still second and I’m guessing I’ll take pole again before my next pit stop; I can corner MUCH better now and have already closed the distance with the leader considerably in half a lap.

LOG ENTRY 017
Monday June 16, 16:59
Lead acquired by lap 94. Not much else to report other than realizing that some cars don’t have headlights and, really, I don’t know how that’s legal/allowed. I mean, even MY ride – the game’s freakin’ poster boy seen with headlights showing brightly on the game’s instruction manual – doesn’t have its on at night! Either that’s false representation or… a minor bug where the player’s car, whether it has headlights or not, will not have the VFX show up in the dead of the night. Kinda sucks though, it’s a bit dark to take corners blindly, but I must admit that by now I could almost drive this course blindfolded.

I’m at lap 96 with a 34 second lead, tires are doing a good job and a little less than half a tank left. I feel like trying hard tires next; wonder how those handle…

Trust me, it's there.

Let’s play ”Spot the Porsche behind the Audi”!

Brilliant...

”I guess I’ll just turn off my headlights, now that it’s night-time.”

LOG ENTRY 018
Monday June 16, 18:04
I got over a minute lead by lap 98, but degrading tire condition chipped 28 seconds off that lead by the end of lap 100 (and it doesn’t help that I span out of control early in lap 99).

I figured it was time to put those hard tires to the test before ending the lap, and fully refuelled while in the pits too. I sacrificed all my remaining lead plus 2 seconds, but then managed to steal the pole back before the end of the first half of lap 101. Let’s hope the stars stay with us a while longer… I don’t want to have to switch wheels again any time soon.

I’m not sure if I love these hard tires just yet; I skid off almost as easily as with newly worn soft tires and don’t have as great a performance; all that for greater durability. I lost my lead soon in lap 102, and have stayed between 9 seconds to 20 seconds behind. Now, at lap 109, I’m 15 seconds behind.

I miss those soft tires. Actually, cross that, I miss the rain; I was performing far better in the rain. Hmmm, it would appear that…

…I’m only happy when it rains.

[Guillaume’s 24 hour Le Mans challenge continues this Thursday 3rd July…]