Week Five, Season Three of the iRacing V8 Supercar Series by Bigpond Sport took the circus to the relatively flat Silverstone International layout.
Rens Broekman has proven to be a worthy signing for the Nfinity Esports team. He helped out the team by snaring pole, and helped out the commentators by sporting a new, less green livery to help tell the Nfinity cars apart.
Splitting those two Nfinity cars was Madison Down, enjoying a return to (his usual) form. Mitchell McLeod was next from Mick Claridge and Simon Madden. Lewis Dodimead was sixth, finding even more speed since his return to the top split. Nfinity’s third driver Scott U’Ren was next from XSG’s Shay Griffith, then Richard Lock and Stuart Wood rounded out the top ten.
All of our well-known split one regulars were there to add more depth, with names like Joshua Muggleton, Paul Larkin, Simone Gelli, Craig Woodhouse, Cal Whatmore, and George Fullerton. Relative newcomers Mitchell Boulton and David Bente built on their experience, while Bigpond’s Vern Norrgard made a return, as did XSG’s Terry Nightingale Jr, taking a break from his commentating duties on XSG’s excellent live broadcast, leaving Corey Slade holding the baby there.
They all launched without major incident, although Down described his start as “craptastic…”, Broekman made the best of it, while Down followed him from McLeod and Claridge. Dodimead momentarily trounced Madden to run fifth, but got it wide into Maggotts, letting Madden back through. U’Ren then got past at the end of the back straight, and Griffith threw an opportunist dive at Dodimead also. There was contact, but Griffith made it through.
Dodimead’s woes culminated in Stuart Wood giving him a serve into Brooklands at the end of the first lap. Lock rear-ended Wood as a result, and Muggleton capitalised on all of this by sneaking into eighth.
Dodimead dropped back to 16th from all that. Wood was a little sheepish: “Do I get a prize for most incidents? I feel like a rookie again…”
Broekman was putting the hammer down, but couldn’t eke out a gap on his pursuer Down. McLeod was well clear from Claridge and Nfinity’s third driver U’Ren.
At the other end of the field, Dodimead began a fightback, sizing up Norrgard, while at the same time Nightingale shaved Copse (Turn One) too fine and clipped the guardrail, putting him out for the night, alerting everyone to his displeasure. That was Lap Ten.
“I hugged the apex like my favourite grandma” – Scott U’Ren
Stuart Wood had caught Muggleton and was having a look every which way, in a battle which would last for the entire race. It included Wood enjoying a frightening trip onto the grass after the kink onto the back straight, at full pelt.
While this was going on, Down had pulled up to the rear of Broekman, looking very serious for the lead. On Lap 14 Broekman could hold off the Trans Tasman car no longer, locking up and sliding wide at the hairpin past Abbey, at the end of the back straight. And that was all she wrote. Down pressed on, leaving Broekman and McLeod to fight it out for the Nfinity honours.
Best of the rest was still Claridge, followed by U’ren, Madden, Griffith, and Muggleton with Wood still in hot pursuit in ninth.
Behind them were Lock, Whatmore and Fullerton all over each other for that final top ten spot. It went in Fullerton’s favour, overtaking first Whatmore at the end of Lap 15, then a squirmy Lock within a lap, putting George into his customary top ten position. “I lucked out with a few bold moves” said George.
Unfortunately his luck ran out three laps later, with a spin at Abbey, which allowed Lock into tenth. Not satisfied with this, Lock went off at the same spot, allowing Whatmore, Gelli and a recovering Dodimead to fight over tenth place, which seemed to be cursed tonight.
While this was going on, McLeod quietly slipped past teammate Broekman into second, and set off after Down. He closed the gap considerably with two laps to go, both leaving Broekman and the rest well behind. The Season One champion is stealthy and consistent, if not fastest, always looking at a points haul. In fact “I went a bit conservative on my set up to look after tyres rather than outright speed”. It turned out to be a good strategy, as some runners had fried rears by Lap Four.
Wood was still not letting up on Muggleton, having a huge lunge on the penultimate lap into Brooklands, with some heavy contact. Muggleton hung on, both appearing to be in a drifting competition with tyres respectively shot. Muggleton was delighted with yet another top ten finish, although “a poor setup was my undoing, (if only) I could speak Dunlop..!”
Meanwhile, on the final lap, U’Ren had a go at Claridge at the same spot, having lined up the move at the previous corner: “I tried to spook him a bit out of Bridge and hugged the apex like my favourite grandma…” Apart from winning cliche of the night, it worked, U’Ren into fourth for Nfinity.
“…a bit hard when you can see a green monster hunting you down” – Madison Down
Behind them, Claridge’s fellow Briton Mark Foley (who had started 20th and chipped away) did the same to a wildly powersliding Fullerton, for 13th place.
McLeod almost ran Down down. The leader said “My tyres were stuffed and I was just telling myself to…ignore the mirror. That’s a bit hard when you can see a green monster hunting you down…”
However, McLeod was beaten by the chequered flag and Down prevailed for the win.
Broekman was seven seconds behind in third, from U’Ren, Claridge, Madden, Griffith, and Muggleton with Wood still glued to his bumper across the line.
The curse of tenth place struck again- Whatmore was all set in that position after a dreadful Phillip Island round, but for a few virtual feet too many over the apex cones at Woodcote within sight of the flag. The ensuing penalty dropped him to 18th, and elevated a surprised Gelli into the tenth position. With only 50 or so virtual metres to the finish line, the curse didn’t have time to affect Gelli.
Dodimead recovered to be 11th from Lock, Foley, Fullerton, Woodhouse, Norrgard, Boulton in 17th ahead of the penalised Whatmore.
The remaining split winners were David Comstock, Thomas Guerrini and the aptly-named Carwyn May.
Screenshots courtesy of Bigpond Sport/Stuart Wood
Broadcast replay at Livestream.com
DIVISION STANDINGS at WEEK FIVE.
|27||David Jaques||1||New York||474|
|29||Stephen Michaels||2||New York||467|