It’s been an exciting week in the world of V8 Supercars, both real and sim. From the announcement that two-time V8 Supercars champion, Marcos Ambrose, will be returning to the real series to plans to run the first-ever full-length online Bathurst 1000 for the OSR Race of Champions, things are indeed heating up. With several new faces appearing in the series for the first time, many have accepted the challenge of taming the V8 Supercar.
As we inch closer to the end of what has so far been an exciting Season 3, the iRacing.com V8 Supercars Series completed the only night race on the schedule in Week 7 at Twin Ring Motegi. A classic sprint race, pit stops were not an issue; however survival was. Being a night race at a track such as Motegi, known for its deceiving chicane and high-speed corners, the event was especially difficult.
Nevertheless, the warriors of this series arrived ready to race. With a time of 1:17.866, it was Hi-Tec Sim Racing’s Beau Cubis taking pole position from Tony Autridge of Trans-Tasman Racing by a mere .006 seconds. The second row of the grid featured Michael Fulcher of Kamikaze Racing Team and Sam Sutton who started third and fourth, respectively, with SDC Motorsports’ James McKnight rounding-out the top five.
The event got underway with the field of 23 cars racing towards the downhill Turn 1. The battle for the lead began immediately, however, as Autridge got a quicker start off the line than Cubis. The two were side-by-side down the front straight but Autridge had the inside line and took the lead from Cubis in the first corner. The rest of the leaders got through cleanly but mayhem soon arrived mid-pack.
As the field compressed into the first corner, Michael Fabian of Mad Cow Racing made contact with the right-rear of SDC Motorsports Ford Falcon of Michael Cracknell. The impact caused Cracknell to swerve to the right and collide with both Fabian and Michael Schreyer of Synergy Sim Racing. Although Fabian got tagged, Schreyer absorbed the brunt of the impact.
Just as that incident was clearing up, another unfolded between SDC driver Sam Compton and Henry King of ANZ Motorsports. The two made contact in Turn 1 and, in turn, collided with Randolph Chenowth who was simply trying to make it through the carnage.
Needless to say, it was an eventful first lap.
With the carnage behind them, the leaders pulled away in a race of their own. It was competitive from the get-go between the front runners as they tried to establish a lead over the rest of the field. Autridge and Cubis remained in close proximity for the majority of the race.
Although Autridge was the dominant leader, Lap 16 favored Cubis as he slipped by his opponent and seized the lead courtesy of a slight bump-‘n-run. Although Cubis was scored as leading a lap, it was short-lived. The very next lap, Autridge put his foot down and reclaimed the lead.
Further back in the field, there was moving and shaking going on. Dale Neish of Hi-Tec Sim Racing, who didn’t post a qualifying time, was on the move after starting in twenty-second position. Although he completed the online race over 46 seconds back from the leaders, he managed to claim twelve spots and finish in tenth.
Dave Oliver was also a mover after starting in nineteenth and finishing behind Neish in eleventh. The driver who took the worst “shaking” however, was Fabian who retired from the race 27 laps down after starting in eighth.
The race for the win came down to the final lap. Although Autridge had dominated the event thus far, Cubis was not going to give it up without a fight. Though a valiant effort, the fight came down to .239 seconds between the two. Cubis gave it his all but, in the end, couldn’t match the pace of Autridge who took the win for Week 7.
As a consistent front-runner, Fulcher had a quieter race than the one which unfolded three-seconds ahead of him. His closest competitor was McKnight who, by the end of the race, was a similar distance behind him. It was a solid run for Fulcher, however, who finished where he started to take his second podium of the season.
McKnight and Sutton swapped starting positions by the end of the race as they rounded-out the top-five in fourth and fifth, respectively.
This Australian Strength-of-Field (SoF) race had a strength of 3175 and was split three times. The top-five finishers from the other splits are as follows:
Split 2/SoF 1701
1- Todd Parkes
2- Jason W Dickson
3- Katie Rose Taranto
4- Jeff Gauci
5- Todd Valentine
Split 3/SoF 1021na
1- Shaun Thomson
2- Jordan Andrews
3- Aaron Mcintyre
4- Richard Byrne
5- Wayne Taylor
Although Mitchell McLeod still holds the Season 3 championship lead, the successful efforts Autridge and Cubis have all but erased his advantage. Currently with 1416 points, McLeod holds only a two point lead over Cubis with Autridge (1328) making-up ground as well. Fulcher (1225) still holds onto fourth as Curtis Chippeway (1126) knocks Jake Burton off to secure a spot in the current top-five.
Week 8 of the iRacing.com V8 Supercars Series takes us to the other side of the world for the series’ first official run at the newly added Donington Park Racing Circuit. Located in Leicestershire, England, the Grand Prix Circuit features roughly 2.5 miles of elevation changes, 12 slick corners and includes the Melbourne and Goddard’s hairpins. A challenging track in its own right, Donington will push the V8 drivers to the limits as they attempt to overcome both car and track in this challenging 35 lap online race. One can imagine that the former champion, McLeod, will fight to extend his lead as his competitors hunt for their own glory.
The final weeks of Season 3 are upon us and it’s looking like it will be a battle to the end.