Down leads Hamstead into Turn Two on an already hectic opening lap.

The official V8 Supercar Series headed to Montréal, this week for Round Five of 2014 S1. The race didn’t involve any pit stops so it would be a sprint from start to finish. All the drivers had to do was negotiate the tough and unforgiving Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve for 20 laps, or 87 kms. Once again Madison Down topped the qualifying time sheets, taking his fifth consecutive pole position with TTL sim-racer Richard Hamstead gridding alongside in P2. Row Two was occupied by George Maris and Tobias Czerny, with Beau Cattell starting fifth ahead of Leigh Ellis. ANZ Motorsports sim-racer Jarrad Filsell gridded up seventh with Mitchell McLeod eighth, while the fifth row had Marlon McMullen on the inside ahead of TTR steerer Shaun Kelly.

As the online race got underway it was Down who controlled the lead through the first turn. Just behind Czerny had an average start, letting Cattell up the inside on the approach to Turn One. Ellis, on the other hand, had nowhere to go and the resulting nose-to-tail contact cost Czerny a number of spots. Only a couple of corners later Ellis once again was involved in a lag contact with Filsell wrecking both of their Falcons – and their races.

Cattell’s good start had earned him P3 but a cut track penalty on the first lap dropped him back down to seventh. Thus McLeod emerged as the biggest mover, slotting into third at the end of a chaotic first lap. Only a lap later two more of the dreaded cut track penalties were handed out – in these cases to Maris and McMullen — causing both drivers to tumble down the order.

The opening laps witnessed a thrilling battle between Kelly, Fulcher, Preston, Mcknight and Natahn Bey. It would come unstuck for Bey at the end of Lap Four: Kelly tagged the Wall of Champions leaving him with no choice but run into the back of Kelly, resulting in Bey spinning on the pit straight.

Up ahead there were two packs of cars fighting hard for track position. Arguing over third spot were McLeod and Czerny – a duel that would ultimately last the entire race.  Just behind them a fierce tussle raged between Maris, McMullen and Cattell with Emerson catching fast.

All eyes were on the midpack battle . . .

At the end of Lap Six Cattell got the move done on Maris around the outside at the final chicane earning him sixth position. Less than a lap later Cattell fell victim to Maris’ failure to slow his Falcon sufficiently at the hairpin, the resulting contact spinning Cattell around. Only a couple of laps later it was déjà vu all over again as Maris drilled McMullen at the Hairpin, pitching the latter into a spin. Emerson was the beneficiary of this mayhem, as he moved up into fifth while those around him faltered – or were faltered, as the case may be.

Through the mid-point part of the race it became obvious that – in contrast to previous races this season — Down wasn’t going to have things all his own way as Hamstead was consistently taking a tenth or two out of the lead margin every lap. About the same time Preston was starting to fall back into the grasp of Kelly and Stenburg. On Lap 14 Burton received a ‘slow down,’ letting Muggelton who had decided to start the race from the rear of the field through into P16.

As the end of the race started to loom, Hamstead closed to right up under the wing of Down’s Falcon. The lead car looked to be really struggling with tire life giving, Hamstead a big speed advantage. While the battle for first was coming the boil, things were also heating-up in the race-long battle for third, with Czerny getting around McLeod through the final chicane on Lap 18.

The decisive moment: Hamstead seized the lead from an (over, under) sideways Down.

The last lap would prove to be the most exciting of the race.   After scraping the wall in Turn Five, Down had a terrible run through the middle chicane. Hamstead seized the opportunity and made his move.   As Down tried to apply the throttle contact ensued, but it was Hamstead who retained his composure — and grabbed a lead he would hold for the remainder of the lap to home the win ahead of Down. Czerny had a best ever result in third, leaving McLeod fourth and wondering what he has to do to get on the podium. Emerson finished in fifth just ahead of Cattell, while Maris prevailed over McMullen with Fulcher taking P9 and McKnight rounding-out the top ten.

A replay of all the action can be viewed on V8s Online.

Split 2 winner: Timothy Hancock
Split 3 winner: Paul Gorrell
Split 4 Winner: Shane Best

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