Ruggier claimed his first Main Race win with a faultless drive at Mid-Ohio.

Round Five of the iRacing.com V8 Supercars Series presented by BigPond went back to the United States.  The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a challenging 3.6km track would be the home for the drivers and teams this week. No fuel-saving or pit stops where required for the teams this week, so it would be a straight run from start to finish.

It was an intense qualifying session and it came down to the final lap of the week. On his final lap, ANZ Motorsports driver Justin Ruggier knocked-off team mate Shane van Gisbergen with Madison Down following suit on his last lap to gain the front row and relegate van Gisbergen to Row Two.  After all the dust settled it was Ruggier on pole position with a lap of 1:24.053 while Down did a 1:24.057 with van Gisbergen (1:24.101) third, while Vail Riches would start from the second row of the grid with a 1:24.188. CST Ajiria Racing’s Petteri Kotovaara took fifth with the exact same time as Mitchell McLeod: 1:24.278. Can-Am Motorsports drivers Chad Chastain and Curtis Chippeway both posted excellent times and found themselves seventh and eight while Richard Hamstead and John Emerson would round out the top ten.

Ruggier got the jump on the field as they filed through Turn One, with van Gisbergen following behind and Down slotting into third just ahead of Riches with McLeod in tow. Kotovaara was shown the black flag through Turn One and, whilst trying to serve it failed to get the car slowed down enough for the required period of time and got a full drive through black flag, ending his race as soon as it started.

Ruggier leads the field through Turn One on the opening lap.

Ruggier got the jump on the field as they filed through Turn One, with van Gisbergen following behind and Down slotting into third just ahead of Riches with McLeod in tow. Kotovaara was shown the black flag through Turn One and, whilst trying to serve it failed to get the car slowed down enough for the required period of time and got a full drive through black flag, ending his race as soon as it started.

Joshua Muggleton was one of the biggest early movers and shakers moving up from eleventh to P7 on the opening lap, even as Down went side-by-side with van Gisbergen through Turn Four before moving back into second place into Turn Five.  Further back, Emerson and Chippeway where having a fierce battle through the opening laps, stacking-up a field of cars immediately behind them.  And while this was happening Scott McLaughlin was making his way through the field from last on the grid, having failed to post a qualifying time.

Kotovaara in the grass through Turn Four while Down regains second place.

Lap Seven saw Shaun Kelly put a wheel-off into Turn Nine and spin off into the wall, ending any chance of a top 10 finish. Kelly’s bobble allowed McLaughlin to move up another position and set sights on the pack of cars in front.  On the following lap Down got a bit out of shape under brakes into Turn Two, giving van Gisbergen a sniff at retaking second spot.  And a sniff was all he needed, as van Gisbergen got the run on Down down the long backstraight into Turn Four, regaining the position he lost on Lap One.

Coming through the final corner on Lap Nine, McLaughlin would gave Corey Slade a bump and run.  But it didn’t end there.  A bit unhappy about the contact, into Turn Two on the following lap Slade gave McLaughlin a much bigger bump and run into the dirt, costing McLaughlin two positions.  Two laps later, Thomas Guerrini would follow in the footsteps of team mate Kelly, putting a wheel off coming into Turn Nine and spinning.  Luckily he kept it out of the wall (unlike Kelly) but a lap later Guerrini came into pit lane and parked it, making him the second retirement for the race.

The contact begins between McLaughlin and Slade while Whatmore watches on.

Meanwhile, a great battle was shaping-up between TTR’s Muggleton, Can-Am’s Chad Chastain and TTL driver John Emerson.  Just as things were  starting to get really good, Emerson locked the rears into Turn Four on Lap 22, punting Chastain into spin.  Sportingly, Emerson stopped and allowed Chastain to keep the spot but this allowed fellow Can-Am driver Curtis Chippeway to move up in front of Emerson. To make matters worse Chastain lost control exiting Turn Two and spun, leaving Chippeway with nowhere to go apart from into the back of his team mate, ending his day.

As all the chaos unfolded in the pack, Ruggier was motoring to the win for the first time in just under a year.  His was an outstanding performance, one that had been coming for a long time. ANZ teammate van Gisbergen came home second while Down took the final step on the podium and, with it, reclaimed the championship lead.  Riches finished right behind Down in fourth with McLeod fifth as Hamstead enjoyed a much better online race this time around to bring his DCM Falcon home in sixth ahead of Muggleton. Chippeway, Emerson and Brad Ryan would round-out the top 10 positions. McLaughlin ultimately made-up 13 positions on his way to P11 while Slade would finish 12th on his return to the series. Whatmore and Smith battled to the line with Whatmore coming home P13 ahead of Smith as Christopher Osborne rounded-out the top 15. Chastain would finish up in 16th place and wonder what could have been. While Simon Black, Andrea Baldi, Shaun Kelly and Martin Turner would finished off the lead lap cars and rounded out the top 20 finishers.  Kris Tarrant, Samuel Collins, Thomas Guerrini and Petteri Kotovaara would finish of the field and the cars that were numerous laps down.

Top Five Drivers – Championship Points – Overall
1.    Madison Down – 1260
2.    Justin V Ruggier – 1232
3.    Scott McLaughlin – 1190
4.    Mitchell McLeod – 1176
5.    Joshua Muggleton – 1116

Split Two Winner: Paul Gallen
Split Three Winner: Sebastian Murray-Wessberg
Split Four Winner: Paul De Maria

Race Highlights of the iRacing.com V8 Supercar Series can be found here done by John Emerson.

You can watch the full race replay by visiting www.v8sonline.com.au

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