Class was in session at Suzuka as Professor Emerson took everyone to school.
One of the world’s premier racing circuits, Suzuka International Racing Course is a favorite among the top-tier drivers in just about every category of racing – both real and sim. As such, it was Week 5 of the iRacing.com V8 Supercars Series which brought drivers and fans alike to the virtual 3.6 mile circuit for 18 laps around the challenging road course.
Stepping into the fray as the man to beat was Team TTL driver, John Emerson, who took pole position with an impressive time of 2:00.209 – over a half second faster his closest competitor. That competitor happened to be Beau Cubis of Evolution Racing Australia (ERA) who completed the front row of the starting grid. Filling out the second row was Emerson’s teammate, Vail Riches, followed by Michael Cracknell of SDC Motorsports with Cubis’ teammate, Ian Ford, rounding out the top-five.
For many, Suzuka is seen as having a strange starting grid in that the odd numbered starting order starts on the outside. This ultimately puts the leader on the outside for First Curve. Such was the case for Week 5 as the green flag dropped.
Immediately, Cubis was on the attack. Going into First Curve, Emerson was at a disadvantage which Cubis was keen to capitalize on. As the leaders led the field into the ‘S’ Curves, Cubis was able to make it stick and took an early lead of the race. Additionally, Cracknell took advantage of the inside line as he overtook Riches for third.
Everybody was Kung-Fu racing…
Further back, the action was as hot as wasabi heading into Dunlop Curve. After starting in eighth, Corey Preston was in a fierce battle pack when he got sideways going through the ‘S’ Curves. He temporarily went off-track which resulted in a slow-down penalty. It proved to be costly as the field was still compressed from the start of the race and, by the end of Lap One, Preston had fallen back to nineteenth.
Elsewhere, Tim Faultz wasn’t having the start he planned. Coming out of Turn 9, Faultz gave it too much ‘jandal’ which caused the back end to lose grip and swing off the racing line. Despite starting in fifteenth with a competitive qualifying time, Faultz would ultimately finish on the lead lap in eighteenth.
Although he didn’t post a qualifying time, Australian GT Academy winner and International runner-up, Josh Muggleton, was present on the track and got off to a great start. His good form would be short-lived, however, as ‘Muggo’ found the back end of Mario Vlasic after the latter braked unexpectedly going into the ‘S’ Curves. The result was Muggleton losing the hood of his Commodore and eventually retiring early to be credited with last place.
Fight for the lead
Although Cubis overtook him for the lead on Lap One, Emerson was not going to make it easy for the leader to maintain the momentum. Staying hot on the heels of his opponent, Emerson kept the pressure up until it seemed the ERA driver had given way.
On Lap Four as Cubis accidentally took too much of the corner at Turn 9 and received a slow-down penalty as a result. Doing the right thing and pulling off the racing line to avoid contact, Cubis eventually got going again but it was too little too late. The incident enabled Emerson to slip by and not look back. From that point on, it was a classic case of ‘Goodbye, Mr. Bond’ as Emerson took off. Before long, the TTL driver enjoyed a double-digit lead over Cubis.
As the 18-lap race came to a close, Emerson not only took the win from pole position, but did so without collecting a single incident point. Oddly enough, the top-five finishing order was exactly the same as the starting order with Cubis and Riches taking second and third, respectively, along with Cracknell and Ford rounding out the top-five.
This Australian Strength of Field (SoF) race had a strength of 3732 and was split three times. The top-five finishers from the other splits were as follows:
|Split 2/SoF 1928||Split 3/SoF 1165|
|1-Jason Quire||1-Shaun Thomson|
|2-Alan Meyer||2-Nicholas Parker|
|3-Tatsuya Kimura||3-Scott Griffiths|
|4-Gavin Pendergrast||4-Richard Byrne|
|5-Liam Wild||5-Tony Lynch|
Strength-of-Field (SoF) Competition
Although the Monday SoF race has always been the weekly ‘main event’ of sorts, the Friday night (Saturday afternoon Australian time) V8 Supercars Americas broadcast in quickly gaining popularity and is threatening (and in many recent cases, surpassing) the Monday SoF race. As the series continues, look for more coverage of the Americas race in the future.
This week, the iRacing.com V8 Supercars Series tackles the historic Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit for 27-laps of high-speed action. Although the weather looks to be a cool 70° F with clear skies, a 10 mph wind from the west is sure to complicate things for many drivers.
Although we’re about to cross the 2015 Season 1 halfway mark, the championship battle is still going on strong. Judging from the close level of competition we’ve seen from the top drivers, we should be in for an exciting finish when the time comes. But for now, however, all eyes are on Week 6 at Brands Hatch. Will Emerson continue to gather SoF wins? Or has the TTL driver met his match with Cubis? Much is left to be decided as we hit the track for Week 6!