Season 2 of the iRacing.com V8 Supercars Series presented by BigPond kicked off with the teams and drivers heading to Road America to tackle the challenging 6.5km road course. As new faces show their force and with former champions back in the game this is looking to be a good season.
With George Maris taking control in the early race, he would qualify on pole for the main race which saw a near record strength of field (4228). Maris took the pole with a lap of 2:08.259, ahead of the defending champion Richard Hamstead, while ANZ Motorsport combo of Justin Ruggier and their new recruit who came off a Dunlop Series round win — Scott McLaughlin — rounding-out the second row of the grid. Simon Madden and three time V8 Supercar champion Madison Down would start on the third row.
As the lights went green Hamstead got the jump on the field but going into Turn One Maris was sitting just enough up the inside that he would hold onto the position and take the lead and control of the race. With Maris in the lead the rest of the field was still getting themselves sorted and surprisingly everyone got through relatively cleanly. Going down into Turn Three and the first heavy braking zone, Ruggier had troubles getting it stopped. He overshot the corner, almost hitting team mate Maris, but safely re-joined only costing himself two positions with Down and Madden getting by.
As the online race settled into a rhythm it was Maris slightly pulling a gap over Hamstead and Down, but as they hit the half way mark it was Hamstead making the call and pitting first to try and undercut the leader. As quickly as he pitted Maris, Down and the rest of the pack quickly following but as the sim racers rejoined the track it was Down taking the lead via taking only rears and fuel.
Fellow TTR driver Joshua Muggleton followed his team mate with the same fuel and rears-only strategy, jumping up the field and now under attack from Mitchell McLeod. But on Lap 10 it came unstuck when McLeod made the pass through One and Two. When they got on the back straight the pace from the TTR car put Muggleton in prime spot to retake the position. With McLeod slightly covering and catching Muggleton off guard by braking a little harder than expected it was touch and go, with the emphasis on touch. Unfortunately both went off, along with Rens Broekman who had nowhere to go but into the back of Muggleton, ending the trio’s chance of a good result.
On Lap 11, Hamstead had caught Down. Down’s “rears-only” gamble was starting to show as Hamstead made easy work of the former champion and took control of the race but with only five laps to go. Maris had passed Down and was now chasing down Hamstead. Coming through Turn 13 with one lap to go, Maris used to much kerb (like plenty of others) and got thrown wide on exit onto the grass costing him valuable time. Maris again closed the gap on the final tour, but with Hamstead blocking strong and getting some help through Turn 13 from the front bumper of Maris’ Ford it was Hamstead who took the win and the championship points lead. Maris was forced to settle for second place while Down saved just enough fuel to come home third ahead of Scott McLaughlin and a three wide finish for fifth through seventh with Cal Whatmore just beating Ruggier and Madden to the line to snatch the final spot in the top five.
Split 2 Winner – Josh Smith
Split 3 Winner – Justin Di Giandomenico
Split 4 Winner – Jason Scandolera
Split 5 Winner – Benjamin Rigby
You can watch all the race replays on www.v8sonline.com.au