And so it was for the finale of Season three 2015 in the official iRacing V8 Supercar Series. Winning eight of the twelve rounds, SDC Motorsports’ Ethan Grigg-Gault is a well-deserved, worthy champion, going from strength to strength in what was an incredibly strong season for the V8 Championship.
With a win, starting at Round One at Zolder, through to the final round at the ultimate challenging Mount Panorama track, Grigg-Gault showed his class throughout the season. Wins in Round Two at Oulton Park, and Round 11 at Watkins Glen, Ian Ford claimed another second place overall, putting up a strong challenge for the top position. The top two cars really have been the strongest in this series, although impressive consistent runs by Benjamin Smith and Beau Cattell kept the top two cars honest.
Five splits of 22 cars arrived in hot weather for the final qualifying session of the season, and as has been in eight of the twelve online races this season Ian Ford took the coveted Bathurst pole position in the Demidov Innovations Commodore. Ian’s raw one lap pace during the season has been super impressive; however, due to differing factors the lack of making the most of the early advantage must be a goal heading towards next season’s opener at Donington Park. On the front row next to Ford was the series elect champion Grigg-Gault with the Smith and Cattell cars in third and fourth. Sam Sutton, a noted specialist at the Bathurst layout continued his good recent run since Montreal to close out the top five grid positions.
34 laps stood between the lights going out to the chequered flag dropping and with the heaviest fuel restriction of the season, at 50% for the first time in official racing, a two pit stop strategy would be put in place. This really opened up the opportunities for different strategies as the pit window had so many variants.
Upon the lights going out and the race starting, the field had a messy start, one that would take away the spectacle of a closer race throughout the field. From the positions six and seven, Jake Burton and 4Motorsports Mitchell McLeod had a moment even before the entry to turn one, Hell Corner. McLeod from the get go, leaned to the left as the cars approached the first turn, Burton, already near the wall, seeing the pressure applied by McLeod has attempted to create more space between his car and the wall and has driven into the side of the McLeod Commodore, this has caused a major incident with both cars spearing off but in the process taking the innocent parties of Aaron Hamilton and Sam Sutton with them. Upon the dust being settled, there is little doubt that McLeod ensured that the damage to his and Burtons car was significant enough that both races would end right there. In what was originally Burtons error, McLeods actions certainly didn’t calm things down between the two immediately afterwards.
With the race settling, the battle at the front remained close. Ford with a positive start held on to lead Grigg-Gault for the first four laps of the trace, however, a slight mistake braking too late into Turn 2 (Griffens Bend) allowed the number one SDC car through to the lead. A lead that would continue to get stronger. By lap 11 that lead was out to five seconds, causing Ford to react with a quick, short filled pitstop, that by the time Grigg-Gault pitted, had Ford in front again with the undercut. As was previously the case though, Grigg-Gault, on newer tyres, was able to make the pass again at Griffens Bend where he would not be seen again by the chasing pack.
Throughout the race, cars were falling by the wayside with damage on what most would say is the most challenging track for the V8 drivers this, and every season. Sim racers such as Rivera, Cracknell, Cattell and Hammond met their respective fates at different walls, Marty Carroll blowing an engine on the entry to The Chase meaning he would finish in 14th position.
With an ever widening gap at the front, a lot of the attention went to the battles involving Scott U’Ren and the progression of Jake Maloney through the field from the rear of the grid at the start. Both cars kept their noses reasonably clean and went on the seventh and sixth respectively. Sam Sutton, after the early dramas on lap one, pressed hard to come in a very creditable fifth position whilst Corey Preston, continuing on his late end of season charge had a season high fourth position, 40 seconds off the race winner. No doubt Preston would be looking very much forward to the new season with his steady improvement.
In a welcome, albeit, short return to the V8s Blake Coppo shook off the cobwebs and finished eighth in front of a recovering Aaron Hamilton and series debutant, Ellis Teal to round out the top ten.
At the front, however, Grigg-Gault finished off his remarkable season with a dominant win ahead of the Evolution Racing Australia cars of Ian Ford and a lonely Benjamin Smith who had an uneventful race.
Next season, there are exiting times ahead. With the grateful assistance of the Australian iRacing community and with the official support of iRacing.com the live broadcast of the series has been ensured to be continued on. Watch for the broadcast live stream on Monday nights Australian time bought to you by RacespotTV.
With thanks to Demidov Innovations for supporting the past season, and to all the drivers and teams that made it successful, Round one at Donington is assured of being the lead in to what will again be a strong season.