Week Three of the sensational iRacing V8 Supercar Series by Bigpond Sport went upstate New York to historic Watkins Glen.
The first two rounds each appeared a Madison Down benefit, but series arch-rival Mitch McLeod has shown a wheel or two and has looked threatening. All punters, including myself, predicted an explosive fight for the series and those projections are looking accurate.
The heavy hitting started with qualifying, and even with a very rapid Rens Broekman, McLeod was hooked up and flying. With the top three times faster than last season’s pole time, McLeod in the Tatts.com Racing Falcon nabbed it from the Nfinity car of Broekman by 3/1000ths of a second.
Richard Hamstead was third and Down, rather surprisingly, was fourth. Scott McLaughlin was fifth from Scott U’Ren, Cal Whatmore, Paul Larkin, Beau Cubis and Lewis Dodimead. This is how they started race one.
McLeod got the jump and was never headed, although Broekman followed suit and did not make it easy for him. Hamstead briefly enjoyed his third position until Down passed him through the treacherous Turn Two and Three esses. Hamstead then banked on Down roughing up the leaders, and him being able to “pick up the pieces”.
Indeed, Down filled Broekman’s mirrors which enabled McLeod to sprint away and manage a gap. Hamstead, meanwhile, struggled with his balance and got embroiled in a dust-up with U’Ren and Whatmore. U’Ren spun after contact with Whatmore, whom Hamstead had to furiously hold off in the closing laps.
Up front, despite Broekman setting a fastest lap, it belonged to Mitchell McLeod. The rest were Broekman, Down, Hamstead, Whatmore, U’Ren whop pipped Michael McCabe for sixth in his recovery, then McCabe, Larkin, Cubis, and Simon Black.
“Just wow…..a terrible night for me” – Madison Down
It was an epic night over four splits. The second was won by Neil Pearson from Thomas Guerrini and Carwyn May. Split Three was Todd Gibson, Clayton Brooks and Andre Billington, and Split Four was John Briggs, Nicholas Parrant and Robert Northway.
Race Two at 9.45pm was an even bigger bumper field. The start was a carbon copy (taxable under our current government) of Race One. McLeod did the business with Broekman in tow, while Down repeated his move on Hamstead through the esses to grab third. Whatmore followed them while U’Ren, who had a shocking first lap and dropped back to eighth, was moving back up to challenge the top six.
Down was having an uncharacteristically scrappy race, brushing the wall in the esses on lap two, giving Hamstead some hope “but he hung on”. In fact, Down took Broekman for second place at the bus stop, but shortly afterwards he “ran out of talent at the 2nd to last corner and drove it straight off the road with the front left completely locked.” That dropped the series champ to sixth to fight with U’Ren, Muggleton and Corey Slade, who was making an impressive return to the top split.
Meanwhile, Hamstead up front was giving all kinds of stress to second-placed Broekman, whilst himself having to withstand pressure from Whatmore and U’Ren. The positions swapped furiously in a final frenzied five laps. In fact, there was action all up and down the field, to plentiful to list.
In the end, McLeod was supreme, completing his perfect round. Broekman, ever the rock of this series, able to withstand pressure from Down and the rest of the top five, was second. Hamstead again held out U’Ren, in doing so preventing Tatts.com from having both drivers on the podium. Next was Whatmore, Down, Larkin, Muggleton, Slade and Shaun Kelly. Dodimead, Black and McCabe were separated by barely a whisper in 11th-13th-13th. Following them not far behind were Dylan Gulson, George Fullerton and John Emerson.
The remaining split winners were Neil Pearson, Thomas Guerrini and Spud Gibson.
Down was blunt. “Just wow….. What a terrible night for me…”. Mind you, some iRacers would be thrilled with a “terrible” third place in Race One.
If you believe in omens, “…it was about this time last season when Madison stole the championship lead and went on to win it” said McLeod. “Hopefully it’s the other way around this season.”
Either way, we are sure of action.
OVERALL DIVISION STANDINGS
|27||Alexander Chailytko||2||Central-Eastern Europe||303||-400|
|30||Wayne G Hewitt||3||Australia/NZ||296||-407|