Down Wins Bathurst Thriller
March 13th, 2014 by JaimeB
The iRacing.com V8 Supercar Series took to its spiritual home of Mt Panorama Bathurst for Round Six of 2014 Season 1. Continuing his streak of six pole positions was Madison Down, as the TT-R sim-racer was the only driver to get into the 2:05s. Second on the grid went to Rens Broekman with Row Two filled by Mitch McLeod and Leigh Ellis. Behind them George Maris would start from P5 with Beau Cattell holding down sixth spot ahead of Ian Ford with Tobias Czerny starting along side in eighth making for an all-Powerbond Row Four. Matthew Hill placed ninth on the gird with Kurt Stenburg starting from 10th position.
It didn’t take long until Bathurst claimed its first victim for the night, as Schreyer spun at Hell Corner on the opening lap. Later that lap O’Brien tried a move around the outside of Fulcher at 300km/h into The Chase. Contact ensued, and Fulcher became just a passenger as his Kamikaze Falcon flew through the sand traps and speaed into the side of Burton. With nowhere to go, the following May and Muggelton ploughed into the wrecked cars left stranded on the track. Only a lap later Delalic got into the rear of McKnight at The Cutting causing him to fall down to 21st spot from 13th.
By Lap Six the field had split into battle groups. Down led but Broekman was sitting under his rear wing ready to pounce. A fantastic tussle for third was underway with Ellis holding-on but with McLeod, Maris, Cattell and Ford all trying hard to claim the final step on the podium position. Further back, another battle royal saw McMullen, Stenburg, Preston, Czerny and Kelly jostling for positions P9-P13.
Lap Nine and the intense pressure from behind proved too much for Maris, who pushed a little too hard through The Dipper and made multiple contacts with the wall forcing him to call at the pits. En route to pit lane, Maris’ slowing car baulked Cattell, allowing Ford to close in and bump draft the entire way down Conrod Straight.
By Lap 10 Kelly (who had started in last spot without setting a qualifying time) moved past Preston to gain 13 spots to move into the top ten. Another notable effort was from the Power Bond Racing Team, which had three cars in the top ten and running strong.
The pit window opened on Lap 14 and a number of drivers took the early opportunity to grab some fuel and new rubber. Broekman was the first to pit from second position, followed by Ellis, Cattell and Ford, leaving McLeod from that pack on track on his own. Ford was the biggest winner of the trio as he jumped both Cattell and Ellis, while Cattell got by Ellis through Griffens Bend leaving Ellis two spots down in that part of the race.
A lap later Down entered the pits with McLeod following suit. Down’s slow stop handed Broekman the lead by about four seconds. Czerny made a good gain throughout the pit stop phase while Hill fell a number of positions effecting damage repairs.
The ensuing laps saw Down run at a qualifying pace to bridge the gap to Broekman, taking as much as a full second from the leader’s margin on some laps. Meanwhile, Ellis smote the wall hard out of the Elbow on Lap 18, ending his good run for the night. Soon after that, Ford let Cattell past on Mountain Straight for fourth spot as he could see Cattell had more speed at that time. Indeed, it took Cattell little time to get his ANZ Motorsport Falcon on to the rear of McLeod. Cattell had a run on the outside into The Cutting on Lap 22; however this is not a spot where guys can go two-wide and Cattell ended-up in the wall. Fortunately, he escaped without too much damage he was able to hold fourth place.
Up front, Down was harassing Broekmans and the pressure showed when the leader made a mistake at The Chase on Lap 24, gifting Down the lead of the race once again. Two laps later Broekman hit the wall hard across the top of The Mountain, the resultant huge damage forcing him to retire. On the same lap Cattell got by McLeod thanks to a better run out of The Chase and holding the inside line into Murray’s Corner. With Broekmans’ retirement, Cattell thus went from P4 to P2 in a single lap.
But that’s as far as Cattell would progress as the end of Lap 31 saw Down taking his fifth win for the season. Cattell took his strongest ever finish (P2) while McLeod got the final spot on the podium and Ford completed a strong run in fourth. Czerny finished fifth after falling to P12 at one stage of the race, while McMullen came in sixth ahead of team-mate Stenburg. Kelly’s strong run from the rear of the field produced an eighth place finish ahead of SSR driver O’Brien with McKnight rounding-out the top ten.
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Split 2 winner: Dave Oliver
Split 3 winner: Joshua Burdon
Split 4 Winner: Ray Griffiths
Split 5 Winner: James N Scanlan