Round 7 of the iRacing.com V8 Supercar Series took the teams to one of the most popular tracks on the calendar: Watkins Glen. However, this week’s racing saw the drivers take on a different challenge with the “Classic” layout bringing the big back straightaway into play.
Qualifying for this week was (once again) led by Madison Down, whose lap of 1:07.543 secured the pole position with Richard Hamstead starting alongside him on the front row. Justin Ruggier and Josh Muggleton would start from the second row with Shaun Kelly and Leigh Ellis Row Three. Adrian Stratford and Rens Broekman would start from the fourth row with Matthew Hill and Leigh Day rounding out the top 10 starters.
When the green lights flashed it was even off the line, but into Turn One Hamstead held the outside line. With Down getting loose on the inside, Hamstead was able to make the move stick and move into the lead heading down the hill to the Esses. A moment for Ruggier into the first turn on Lap Two gave Muggleton a chance to move up into third. Soon afterwards Down used the draft to maximum effect and moved around Hamstead into The Carousel to take the lead. Just behind them, Vail Riches duplicated the move to advance one spot at the expense of Richie Stanaway.
A massive moment for Muggleton in The Carousel saw him relinquish third to Ruggier then, coming into Turn One on Lap Three Riches suffered a bit of lag and then a moment which made him run a little wide. Coming back onto the track, Riches went into the front of Stanaway’s Falcon which — unfortunately for Riches — spun him around into the wall. Nearly everyone avoided the wayward car, but Tobias Czerny tagged the Riches’ rear which — again put him sideways. Still more netcode saw Mitchell Abrahall get through the front of Riches car and blow his engine. The mayhem continued on Lap Four when Abrahall got loose out of the Esses, lost control and put it into the outside armco and came into the pit lane at the end of the lap.
A big moment for Hamstead into the Carousel on Lap Eight was all Ruggier needed to grab second place, while erstwhile teammates Tony Autridge and Wayne Tolley had a coming together when Autridge missed his braking marker by a long way and hit the back of Tolley forcing him into the pits to repair the resulting damage. Three laps later, Tolley got caught in an awkward position trying to let the leaders past in the Esses. Unfortunately for John Emerson, he ran a little wide trying to avoid Tolley and found himself in the wall and now out of the race.
The pit stops commenced on Lap 20 with Down and Hamstead both entering the lane straight away and on the following lap Ruggier, Ellis, Stanaway, Stratford and Day followed suit. Ruggier would lose-out with Ellis jumping him in the pit stops and Hamstead also working the undercut. Ellis and Hamstead exited the pits side-by-side but into the Esses Hamstead completed the move to regain his second place. It wouldn’t take Ruggier long to jump back up into third, getting around Elli into the Carousel and while there was contact between the two they both kept it together and continued on in pursuit of Hamstead and Down.
Hamstead soon found himself defending his second place from Ruggier. As Ruggier went to make a criss-cross on Hamstead out of Turn One on Lap 28, he lost the rear end and had to make a super save. Nevertheless, the bobble cost Ruggier four positions and he found himself back behind Muggleton and having to defend from Matthew Hill. Lap 31 saw Stanaway get a good run on Hill on the backstraightaway. Into the Carousel Stanaway went in a little too deep resulting in contact but, luckily, both drivers saved it and continued on.
Up front there was no catching Down’s Tatts.com Falcon as he stormed to victory over Hamstead who was forced to defend heavily from Ellis who enjoyed a career best result in third place. Kelly had a really strong run to fourth place while Muggleton made a few too many mistakes but still clawed his way into the top five in fifth. Ruggier managed to finish in sixth while Stanaway and Hill finished seventh and eighth ahead of Stratford and Day.
Top Five Drivers – Championship Points – Overall
1. Justin Ruggier –1738
2. Josh Muggleton – 1577
3. Madison Down – 1499
4. Leigh Day –1349
5. Marlon McMullen – 1324
Split Two Winner: Dylan Carroll
Split Three Winner: Sanjin Delalic
Split Four Winner: Todd Valentine
Split Five Winner: Mark Noble2
Broadcast done by the crew at www.v8sonline.com.au