Christmas seems to have come early for Evolution Racing Australia sim racer Ian Ford at the conclusion of Round 6 of the official iRacing V8Supercar Championship held at the famous Brand Hatch Grand Prix venue.
With clear skies above and a generous track temperature the large field of 24 cars got stuck into business for the 12 minute long qualifying session. With a clear track, the times were very competitive throughout. However, following on from his recent good form, Dayco Motorsports’ Sam Sutton grabbed the pole position with a lap of 1:25.298. The incredible competiveness of the series continued with the two-time defending champion Ethan Grigg-Gault just .005s behind. The top teams dominated the top four with Beau Cattell and Ian Ford on Row Two just ahead of new privateer, Kain Kugimiya (formerly with the Multi 21 team) maintained his consistent performances with fifth on the grid.
There would be no pit stops for the 23 lap sprint race, no need to worry about strategy, just straight-up, fast sim racing from the green to the chequered. At the green the Dayco machine of Sutton got off to a great start, holding-off a charging Ford who, after a great getaway two weeks in a row, was able to pass Gault on the outside with the extra grip available. These positions however, were not to stay long as Gault was able to make a successful move on Ford in the early stages of lap three allowing him to charge hard in his SDC Motorsports Commodore.
Ford would be able to stay in touch throughout, generally between three and five seconds off the battling pair at the front.
In the chasing pack however, there were dramas with some of the mid field battles. For the second week in a row, Brenton Hobson seemed to be caught in other drivers’ dramas as Mad Cow Racing’s Richard Aylward and Dayco’s Kurt Stenberg were in a close tussle with each other. At the exit of Druid’s Hairpin there was slight unintentional contact between the #12 and #18 cars, both of which ended up on the inside wall tangled to each other.
From these dramas the field seemed to spread and become more settled. A steady drive by privateer Dylan Gulson and Angry Birds driver Mitchell Ciolic continued with little dramas as they both maintained their steady progression up the overall position for the championship.
With the battle raging up front it was hard to not focus on the fight for the lead. Gault, seemingly quicker than the leader, was unable to make a pass due to the steady defence of Sutton. Lap 20, however, the race was turned on its head when Sutton left the door slightly ajar at the Druids hairpin, but certainly not wide open. Gault went for a gap that rapidly disappeared. With the two cars making contact, Sutton was sent into a slow spin in the middle of the track facing the wrong direction. Ford, who had been making progress on the two leaders drove through the gap into second place.
This would soon turn into the lead as Gault, realising that he was in error for the incident, did the sporting thing and slowed to correct the earlier error when he allowed Sutton to repass for the second position.
Driving conservatively over the last two laps, Ford would go on to win the race in what was a deserved reward after the incidents that had befallen him at other rounds such as Mid Ohio.
Holding-off Gault at the end, Sutton would eventually finish the race in second place, with the SDC car of the defending champion finishing third.
Completely away from the highlights of the race lead, a great battle went all the way through to the finish when Beau Cattell and Kain Kugimiya fought a great race throughout the greater part of the 23 lap event. In the end the two were separated by .003s with the Cattell car coming out narrowly in front. Rivera, after limited track time, again would finish in sixth place with the Carroll car in seventh.
A great race at the front, tarnished to a point by the late incident, showed the large viewing audience why the V8s Supercars, whether it is hosted or official, are the “Greatest Show on Earth.”
***On a separate note, there will be a continuing question from the Australians running in a field with for example, 22 Aussies and two from Europe as to why the server is automatically given as a USA server. The V8 Community, and the Australian community are hoping that this problem gets resolved shortly.***