The real-world V8 Supercar figures were absent for Week Five of the iRacing V8 Supercar Series after featuring in Week Four. However, this Sebring Club Circuit round was still the domain of the real-world racer, as previous weeks’ rookie sensation Scott Andrews poled with 1min 02.038. Andrews is a regular in the Australian Commodore Cup series, a feeder category for the popular V8s. Sim racing regular Shay Griffith was on grid two. Another rookie from the prior week was XSG Motorsport’s Andrew Le, was third, also in the 1 min 02s. Le has dominated just about every iRacing category with a roof but even so, the transition into the iRacing V8 Supercar is not an easy one, rated as one of the most challenging cars in the iRacing stable.
Next were Corey Slade, Wayne Harris, Simon Madden, Scott U’Ren, George Fullerton, Darrin Vouch and Troy Cox. The first eight cars were covered by less than a second.
Sebring Club is a busy little circuit with no down time for the driver. Even the only discernable straight is preceded by a fast sweeper, requiring subtle throttle application.
Darrin Vouch had connection problems decide his race while gridding, putting him a lap down and behind the eight ball from the word go. At the green light Andrews made the best start from the short chute before Turn One, getting the jump on Slade and Griffith. Le kept it cautious and slotted into fourth.
Second place was the where the action was in the opening laps as Slade and Griffith hounded each other for the spot with Le stalking them all the while. Sadly for the newbie, Le looped it in the Esses complex, and was lucky not to be collected by Madden and the rest of the field. The many spectators, whose numbers have grown in this series, didn’t know where to look- whether it was the hair raising dice for second between Griffith and Slade, the freight train from fifth back to tenth, or the charge of Mitchell McLeod, starting from a lowly position having not qualified.
Slade took second from Griffith on Lap Four by backing it into the Turn Ten hairpin under brakes, Valentino Rossi style. Griffith returned the favour to Slade via the same method, in the same place, two laps later. At the same corner Madden got a tap from Harris, sending Madden backwards. He joined the hapless Le at the tail end, but soon made progress back to the midfield, eventually joining Justin Strickland in a tense battle for tenth place.
All the excitement allowed leader Andrews to get away, pulling-out a four second gap by Lap Ten. Fullerton had claimed fourth place and had it all to himself with a little breathing space, while behind him Gavin Sadler, Cox, U’Ren, Fabian Jastremski, Harris, Matthew Nethercote, McLeod and Vern Norrgard were having the grandmother of all battles over fifth place and beyond. The positions swapped like wildfire, until Harris had another braking misadventure into the hairpin and clobbered Sadler. Harris ended up backwards while Sadler, Jastremski and McLeod steamed onwards, the latter already up to ninth.
“Got some apologizing to do…” said Harris. “it certainly was not intentional, just bad judgment.” Sadler was also relieved to continue, having already received much morse-code on his rear end while in the pack. “I don’t think my brake lights were working…” he quipped later.
Dare I re-use a tired cliché- It was definitely all happening. Le retired on Lap 17, after another off track incident, this time induced by real-world distractions invading his sim world. Still, it was a strong showing early on from the frustrated V8 newbie. By Lap 20 Slade had broken the shackles of Griffith’s Vortex Falcon. Lap 26, and the epic McLeod charge had made it to seventh place.
“I don’t think my brake lights were working…” – Gavin Sadler
Meanwhile the leaders were battling traffic around the tight confines of the Sebring Club layout. The placings were a little spread, but this means nothing in the iRacing V8 Supercar Series and sure enough, the combination of closing laps and closing gaps brought the battles alive, and the race was far from settled. U’Ren hunted Fullerton for fourth and McLeod was menacing Cox who was struggling with his virtual rubber. Eventually McLeod took Cox around the outside of Turn 11 after Cox had a lurid tankslapper. Sixth place for McLeod.
Almost at the same time there on Lap 31 of 35, disaster for poor Fullerton whose connection failed, spoiling a promising challenge from U’Ren. Fullerton’s season has been plagued with internet issues interrupting some sharp results. “Such a pity for George” said U’Ren sportingly “I was looking forward to a good battle…”.
And still the race wasn’t over, despite the top three of Andrews- Slade- Griffith looking settled. At the end of the penultimate lap, Griffith had a tyre let go with heavy contact at pit entry, denying him a certain third place and putting him out. Third place or not, “I would have been a lot happier just to finish” said Griffith. This put U’ren into third, and McLeod into fourth from seventeenth on the grid, the charge of the week.
Nothing could stop Andrews, however, claiming victory by over 12 seconds from Slade. “It’s a pity I can’t do the whole season” said Andrews in the post-session chat, “because of the Commodore Cup testing.”
Yes, real world racing does that- but it’s amazing how iRacing still manages to lure them in!