So once again I'm back, as I have a habit of doing - life getting in the way of racing and all that But I've returned, with a new gamesave on my PS3 and ready to do battle with GT2 once again. And I'm revisiting the enduros, and specifically a theme I investigated last time I was here; Rags to Riches. I.e. just how good can your starter car be with minimum investment, and how much money can it win in as little time as possible? Time for some giant-killing methinks So, having done NO races AT ALL since starting the gamesave, simply running through the licence tests and getting a starter car, I've arrived here for the... TRIAL MOUNTAIN 30 LAPS ENDURANCE RACE OR Rags to Riches, Part 1 [Thanks as always to AMG for the track map ] 30 Laps, 74.1 Miles. Pit Window 15-20 Laps. My weapon for this, my 5th attempt in total at the race, is a familiar starter car, and probably the one that provides the most bang for your buck: the humble Nissan Silvia! 1988 Nissan Silvia K's 1800cc Power: 172hp Drivetrain: FR Weight: 1120kg Tyres: Sports Bought from Used Car Lot for 3,518 credits. +6,000cr for Sports Tyres = 9,518 total expenditure. I've had mixed success here before with this S13-shape Silvia; my first attempt in a SilEighty just over four years ago was a bit of a walkover, as the expected battle never materialised . The second attempt in a Silvia Q's (another starter car) two years later involved the above expected battle, which was an incredible duel for victory which ended in crunched fenders and a gut-wrenching defeat for me . So now I'm here for a deciding showdown, with the king of Trial Mountain's AI contingent - the Lotus Elise That may sound like I'm dismissing the rest of the field callously, but seriously, the Elise is in a class of it's own in this field. And as we rolled onto the grid, there he was, in bright orange. I tense. The showdown is on. STARTING GRID 1. Peugeot 306 S16 2. BMW 323ti Compact 3. Lotus Elise 111S 4. Alfa Romeo 156 2.0 TS 16V 5. MGF 1.8i VVC 6. Nissan Silvia K's 1800cc We roll around slowly for the pace lap. Pace car slides left into pit road. We wind through the final chicane. Watch the lights, watch the lights...GO GO GO! Laps 1-15 We charge through the opening high-speed complex of bends at full throttle, and something becomes apparant to me; unlike previous runs, the Elise is mired in traffic at the start. My eyes light up at an oppurtunity to put one over my opponent - they do for a second, before my old Silvia gets a nice new dent in the door from the overly aggressive MGF as he hangs tough down the inside at Turn 5! I clear him, then set sights on my mortal enemy, who's had a disastrous start and has fallen behind the 156. I slide past both at Turn 6, and so shocked is the Elise that he promptly falls behind the kamikaze MG! Drat and double drat! Now's my chance to run to the hills (insert Iron Maiden song here ), and I take it gleefully. The BMW is dispatched of under braking for Turn 8 after slipstreaming down the long back straight, and after stalking the 306 patiently for a while, he falls at the same place on lap 2. The 306 had jumped out into a nifty little lead, but it was never going to last long. The most important car on the track now is the Elise, and as far as my rear-view mirror can see, he's STILL mired behind the MG in dead last place! Never before have I loved the bumbling PD AI more! Whilst he bangs fenders and slices through the pack, I set my Silvia to full attack mode, and romp around the circuit at breakneck speed. In the process, I do something I've never managed to do before - set the exact same laptime for back-to-back laps! My two fastest laps of the race in consecutive laps - and they're exactly the same! Both weird and pretty cool at the same time! I can't do it a third time, sadly, but I do keep in the low-1'41 zone for the next five laps or so, and in the process really building a lead over the plucky but limited 306, with one hair-raising off-track excursion at the fast Turn 3 on Lap 6 limiting my progress just slightly It's hard to tell from my mini-map, but the fact that there isn't one single green dot far away from the rest of the pack leads me to believe the Elise is STILL mired in the pack - happy days! However, I now have to be on my guard, as despite having sport tyres, they start to fade around lap 8 Light green slowly turns yellow, and the laptimes fall away slightly, although more suicidal driving from me limits the damage to the mid-1'42s. I can now see one green dot breaking away from the pack...the Elise has escaped the pack, and is chasing me down I'd amassed about a 10-15s lead on the field by this stage, and as my eyes kept flicking back to the mini-map, I was convinced the Elise was closing in. But it wasn't. I was keeping the gap consistently at around 7-10s. I even increased my lead slightly with a crazy lap on worn tyres at lap 13! But after that my tyres are well and truly shot, so I have a decision to make. As the Elise pits on lap 18, if I pit now, he shall have slightly better tyres than me at the end. However, the last time I tried to stretch my tyres to match an opponent's pit strategy, it failed miserably. Best to take the hit now by pitting slightly earlier methinks Plus I can grab some advantage back on the 2-3 laps I have on new tyres versus his worn out ones...swings and roundabouts...and frayed nerves So with that decision made, I pile into the pits at the end of lap 15, my tyres screaming for an end to their torture! My crew put in a Guido-style pitstop, giving me 4 new tyres and sending me on my way. The Elise predictably speeds past just as service is complete; I have a little cushion over him, but not much. Still in the balance, this one! Or so I thought... Laps 16-30 I sped out of the pits and cautiously tip-toed around the outlap, with the gap coming up as 8.6s at the first checkpoint. All I need to do is maintain that gap to him, and I should re-take the lead and retain the comfortable advantage. But even on this cautious outlap, I shred a whole second out of the Elise's lead. So even on my outlap, making sure I don't spin out on stone cold tyres, I'm chopping into his lead. I smell blood, don't you? Seriously, I'm not even driving that fast, and his lead is evaporating in front of me. It seems his tyres gave out much quicker than I thought! And crazily, even though his lead is being annihilated by the second - down to under 4s by the end of lap 18 - he stays out ANOTHER lap! On utterly tortured tyres, this is utter suicide! I knew the PD AI were stupid, but I didn't realise they were masochistic at the same time?! Finally he ends the massacre and comes in at the end of lap 19, with the lead he had inherited chopped down to the tune of 3.6s. This is my race for the taking now Now that I have breathing room, I make doubly sure that the Elise won't take advantage of worn tyres at the end by taking the next few laps at a gentle pace, not straining the tyres too much and comfortably navigating the track, even taking time to have a look at the scenary; rather nice, this mountain isn't it? Ooh, look at those trees, hang on let me get my birdwatching binoculars out...okay, I exaggerate somewhat But a quick look at my mini-map on lap 24 suggests that the Elise, presumably now spitting feathers, is desperately trying to close the gap, and has cut it from the 15-odd seconds it was after his stop to around 7-10s again. You're not sneaking up on me that easily, my friend! So my Silvia goes into attack mode once more, reeling off a stunning 1'40.875 lap on lap 26 to keep Mr Elise firmly at bay! And then, as if to add insult to injury for Mr Elise's wretched race, I approach the 156 to lap it at the conclusion of lap 26, whom promptly pits and emerges right in front of...you guessed it! I'd love to have a camera and see the face of the Elise driver right now...I'm assuming his reactions can be summed up by the following smileys... ...you get the idea with that After that, I know the race is absolutely sewn up, which is lucky because despite my best efforts, the tyres are wearing out again. Time to go into safety-first mode once again, so I sit back and watch on my mini-map as the furious green dot representing the Elise falls further and further behind as it DESPERATELY struggles to get round the hapless 156 He finally does two laps from the end, but by then it's far too late. I amuse myself for the concluding laps by chasing down the BMW to put a lap on it, and we cross the finish line side-by-side as he survives being lapped by half a carlength, and I romp home to victory! As an aside, it appears there was a titanic battle for 3rd going on for most of the race between the plucky 306 and the crazy MGF, and I get to watch the conclusion on my mini-map on the slowdown lap FINAL RESULTS 1. Nissan Silvia K's 1800cc - 0'51:44.894 2. Lotus Elise 111S - +9.330s 3. MGF 1.8i VC - +59.137s 4. Peugeot 306 S16 - +1:02.873 5. BMW 323ti Compact - +1 Lap (nearly) 6. Alfa Romeo 156 2.0 TS 16V - +1 Lap This was kind of a mix of the previous two races here in a Silvia S13-bodied car; it was close, but at the same time the victory wasn't really in doubt past 2/3s distance It appears the race was won in that first five-lap burst, and the Elise struggling desperately to get out of the traffic jam. If he had started on pole, it would've been much closer; for most of the race he was as fast, if not slightly faster, than I. Traffic won the day on this one - thanks PD AI! More importantly, my starter car, the car I bought and kitted out with sports tyres with change to spare from the starting 10,000cr, won the day and netted a profit of just over 140,000cr! True rags to riches right there! And that could rise to much much more if I chose to sell the prizecar, a gorgeous Denso Supra JGTC car, but I decide against it this time; not until I've had a play with it anyway! Stay tuned for Part 2 very soon...the hard work has only just begun for this humble Silvia! Until then, thanks for reading and goodbye!