Week Nine of the iRacing V8 Supercar Series by Bigpond Sport kicked back at the resort, Virginia International Raceway. But nobody was relaxing. With daylight savings in effect in Australia, it spread the massive interest in this series over both evening timeslots. This report covers the first event (7.45pm EDST).

Real world V8 Supercar racer Scott McLaughlin loves the sweeping, razor-edge curves of the full VIR layout, and he duly snared pole position from Rens Broekman. Series leader Madison Down was third from Richard Hamstead. Fifth was Mitch McLeod after his absence in Round 8, hoping to claw back some margin having slipped to 3rd in the title. Craig Woodhouse was next from the third Nfinity driver Scott U’Ren.

Next was Richard Lock, Stuart Wood and Bigpond Sport’s Vern Norrgard giving a season-best qualifying performance to be tenth.

McLaughlin leads, but no foregone conclusion

Some new faces appeared in Jason Brunton, Blake Haswell, Gavin Barton (qualifying 12th only a smidgeon behind Simon Black) and John Evans. Meanwhile, Okayama nearly-man Shane Van Gisbergen was spectating, in readiness for the race which stops Australia, the Bathurst 1000, this coming weekend.

With the red lights out, McLaughlin got away cleanly and shut the door on Broekman. Down got a shocking start by his standards (probably okay by Mark Webber’s) and had to fend off Hamstead, who duly got sandwiched into Turn One and rear-ended by Woodhouse. Hamstead then made an awkward attempt on McLeod into Turn Three NASCAR bend, both sliding sideways but continuing as they were. U’Ren trumped Woodhouse and Norrgard did the same to Wood.

Hamstead and McLeod get cosy behind the Barn

McLaughlin was showing serious form in the Hyper Stimulator Falcon, pulling out to a near- 2 second lead by lap 3. Down was clearly in championship consolidation mode, although with Broekman in front of him, now second in the series, he was in no mood to let the leaders escape, keeping the yellow Nfinity car well under the pump.

With Australia's biggest enduro approaching, McLaughlin hopes his errors are confined to the virtual world

Just when things looked settled, McLaughlin spun exiting Turn 5A before the “Snake”, copping a whack from McLeod as he rejoined. Moments later, Broekman did the same thing at the Oak Tree, gifting his pursuer Down with what was now the lead.

Tie a yellow Falcon round the old oak tree... Broekman inherited the lead for a few corners

And Down didn’t even need to pass anyone. When you’re hot…

McLaughin was having all sorts of handling dramas, with another spin on lap eight at Turn Four this time, dropping to sixth  just ahead of the recovering Broekman.

The title cream had risen to the top. Down was leading, now McLeod was behind him in second place. A better script could not be written, save for perhaps a series finale!

There was a six second gap back to Hamstead, then U’Ren, McLaughlin, Broekman, Norrgard now a brilliant seventh, Woodhouse, then Wood in ninth having squeezed past Lock in a handy move into Turn One on Lap 11. Lock was now having a fearsome battle with Cal Whatmore and Dylan Gulson, back in the top split after some absence.

Wood, Lock, Whatmore and Co do battle

Newcomer Barton was an impressive 12th, from Black, Wauchope, Vouch, Haswell, Brunton and Evans.

Broekman’s troubled run came to an end commencing Lap 12, when his engine cried enough with that telltale ugly puff of grey.

McLeod tried to keep his championship rival within grasp, but the gap was out to 2 seconds with two laps to go.

Hamstead, McLaughlin and U’Ren soldiered on with similar gaps between them. Norrgard was now a season best sixth, having scored well in the Sunday Evening races.

Lock had now caught Wood, and Barton was past Whatmore. McLaughlin also was closing in on Hamstead for that final podium spot. As always, the race was shooting sparks in the closing laps.

Norrgard is enjoying a Bigpond spring.

McLeod, with dwindling hope of reeling in Down, settled for second in the end, Down victorious by two seconds, which was enough.

Hamstead fended off McLaughlin to claim third. Fifth was U’Ren from a happy Norrgard, then Woodhouse, Wood, Lock, Barton tenth in his first split one, Whatmore, Black, Gulson, Wauchope, Vouch, Haswell and Brunton.

While McLeod moves back into second in the series, bumping Broekman back one spot,  Down already has one hand on the trophy.

The other split winners were Mark Rayner and Carwyn May.

1 Madison Down 1 Australia/NZ 1751
2 Mitchell McLeod 1 Australia/NZ 1683
3 Rens Broekman 1 Benelux 1577
4 Craig Woodhouse 2 Australia/NZ 1252
5 Scott U’Ren 1 Australia/NZ 1204
6 Richard Lock 2 Australia/NZ 1052
7 Scott McLaughlin2 2 Australia/NZ 1046
8 Richard Hamstead 2 Australia/NZ 1042
9 George Fullerton 1 Australia/NZ 1034
10 Cal Whatmore 2 Australia/NZ 996
11 Joshua Muggleton 2 Australia/NZ 984
12 Colin Boyd 3 Australia/NZ 964
13 Simone Gelli 2 Australia/NZ 949
14 Simon Black 1 Australia/NZ 945
15 Mick Claridge 2 England 917
16 Marty Atkins 2 Australia/NZ 909
17 Gavin Barton 2 Australia/NZ 898
18 Vern Norrgard 2 Australia/NZ 890
19 Stuart Wood 2 Australia/NZ 888
20 Kevin Duwel 3 Benelux 791
21 Lewis Dodimead 2 Australia/NZ 778
22 David Jaques 1 New York 739
23 Angelo Mastrantoni 4 Italy 737
24 Tony Hellier 4 Australia/NZ 731
25 David Hingston 2 Australia/NZ 729
26 Mitchell Boulton 2 Australia/NZ 725
27 Shay Griffith 2 Australia/NZ 717
28 Jacob Fredriksson 2 Scandinavia 711
29 Simon Madden 2 Australia/NZ 710
30 Leigh Ellis 3 Australia/NZ 691
31 Andreas Lewau 2 Scandinavia 677
32 Richard Hunter 3 Australia/NZ 673
33 Thomas Guerrini 6 Australia/NZ 672
34 Jason Brunton 2 Australia/NZ 666
35 Stefan Miller 2 Western Canada 658
36 Matt Anderson 3 Australia/NZ 652
37 Darrin Vouch 1 Australia/NZ 651
38 Mark A Rayner 3 Australia/NZ 649
39 John Emerson 2 Australia/NZ 641
40 Thomas van Bussel 4 Benelux 638
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