Down (left) and Muggleton go side-by-side in the opening lap. While Muggleton’s race was destined to end prematurely, Down went on to his fourth win of the season.

The official V8 Supercar Series landed at Road Atlanta this week for 35 laps of the winding, undulating race track in Braselton, Georgia. Once again the entire field was trying to chase Madison Down’s time –in this case, a 1:20.575.  No one was able to match him, however, and he claimed his fourth pole position for the season, making him the only sim-racer to claim pole so far. His team mate in Josh Muggelton lined up alongside in second spot with TTL’s Richard Hamstead filling the third grid spot. Completing the second row was TTR’s Leigh Ellis while Row Three featured Jarred Filsell and Mitchell McLeod. Shaun Kelly started out of P7 ahead of Beau Cattell in 8th and just behind on Row Five were Scott U’Ren and James McKnight.

Once the revs rose and the lights went green, Down got an uncharacteristically slow start allowing Muggelton to get alongside and the pair ran side-by-side for the first four corners. Down finally prevailed heading into The Esses, but his lead would be short-lived as Muggelton going around the outside at the chicane on the first lap. He was able to hold the outside line which, in-turn, gave him the inside line into the last corner and — eventually – put him in the lead at Turn One.  Down went to school on the move and, a lap later, performed the exact same maneuver to regain the lead.

With the front two cars battling for the opening laps, Hamstead and Ellis were able to remain very close. Back in P5 McLeod was suffering some internet problems, making it difficult for the cars following him. Lap Three saw Filsell and ANZ Motorsports team mate U’Ren get the move done on McLeod heading down to the hairpin, but McLeod had other ideas and soon reclaimed the spot from U’Ren. Under pressure from Hamstead on Lap Four, Muggelton put his rear left wheel off the track and spun hard into the pit straight wall ending his online race from second position. On the same part of the track Cattell lost the rear of his Falcon and hit the wall hard as well.

Muggleton and Cattell retire the hard way.

Lap Nine saw Hamstead and Kelly both “awarded” cut-track penalties. Hamstead duly dropped back to fifth with Kelly not losing any positions, just a lot of time to the cars he was battling.

The first of the pit stops began on Lap 10 with Hamstead, Kelly and Cattell all stopping in the hopes of making amends for their earlier mistakes, while Ellis and McLeod visited the pit lane the next lap. Upon re-entering the track it was clear the early pit stop paid off for Hamstead, who had gained a substantial amount of time on Ellis. The battle raged for a few laps between the pair until Lap 13 when Hamstead got a good run on Ellis into the chicane. Ellis had the inside line but understeered into Hamstead, forcing his rival off the track. Hamstead’s subsequent re-entry was aggressive, resulting in contact which left Ellis facing the wrong way and cost him three positions.

The crowd — and Kelly – have a ringside seat as Hamstead (3) and Ellis (4) collide.

Lap 14 saw the race leader pit and hand the lead to Filsell. Behind them a fantastic battle was evolving between Ellis and Maris and when Tobias Czerny emerged between them from the pit lane it only added to the spectacle. All three were catching a wounded Hamstead and, on Lap 18, Ellis was able to clear the pack with Maris and Czerny looking threatening to the TTL Falcon. Filsell and U’Ren entered the pits from P1 and P2, respectively, on Lap 20, giving the lead to Ian Ford who was still to pit and wouldn’t do so until he had only fumes left in the tank on Lap 23.

Czerny eventually got past Maris but by then James McKnight and Corey Preston had joined in a battle for sixth that stretched all the way back to P11. To add to the battle pack, Ford joined at the rear with fresh tires after his late pit stop. Up ahead Kelly had mistaken his fuel numbers and was busily trying to save fuel while holding off McLeod, URen and a fast approaching Ellis. This would setup an enthralling battle to the finish with positions changing between the four sim-racers numerous times.

Not so first place and, at the end of 35 laps, it was Madison Down taking the win and maintaining his 100% success rate for 2014.  Second went to Filsell in his highest ever finishing position with U’Ren prevailing for the final step on the podium.  Kelly managed to just hold of TTR team mate Ellis for fourth, while sixth through to ninth were blanketed by a second with Hamstead leading the pack home, ahead of Czernym McKnight and a fast finishing Ford.  Marlon McMullen claimed 10th after a less than ideal start to the race, while Preston drove well to finish in 11th as Maris faded at the end to come home in 12th. 13th through to 18th were Stenburg, Schreyer, Cattell, Collins, Burton and Fulcher.

You can watch the full replay at V8sonline:

Split 2 Winner        Nathan Bey
Split 3 Winner        Phil Jones
Split 4 Winner        Ben Egan

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