Round Two of the sensationally popular iRacing V8 Supercar Series, presented by Bigpond Sport, arrived at Infineon Raceway, Sonoma.
While Round One at Mosport was claimed by the reigning series champ, Madison Down did not have it all his own way, having to work through some obstacles in Mitch McLeod and Mick Claridge. This time Shane Van Gisbergen trumped them for pole at the tricky, undulating Infineon. Barely a tenth behind and sharing the front row was Peter Read.
Van Gisbergen was sporting the colours of Hyper Stimulator, sim racing’s timeless pioneer rig, which you can read more about here.
Broekman and Down shared the second row, McLeod and Claridge the third. Scott McLaughlin and Simon Madden were seventh and eighth, Shay Griffith and Dylan Gulson rounding out the top ten. Two 2011 champions, two real-world V8 Supercar pilots, and a host of talent- a delicious mix.
“The highs are high and the lows are VERY low…” – Joshua Muggleton
Scott McLaughlin had a connection time out moments before the start, sim racing’s equivalent of a mechanical problem, and started from pitlane. As the engines reached peak revs, Van Gisbergen lurched forward a touch, wrong footing him for the (actual) green light. Read got the jump on him, while The Giz waited on the impending wrath of the virtual start-line steward. Down and McLeod followed closely.
On Lap Three heading into the fast Turn Ten before the pit lane, Josh Muggleton went dirt tracking after damage incurred a few corners prior when “someone bent my car in half..”. He was collected by Wayne Harris upon re-entry. With yellow flags flashing furiously Simone Gelli and Simon Black also clipped Muggleton and went spinning off. The smoke and damage was virtual, but the frustration was real.
Muggleton came crashing down, literally, after such a satisfying seventh place at Mosport.”The highs are high and the lows are VERY low…”
The carnage allowed a recovering McLaughlin through to 16th from his pitlane start.
Meanwhile, Read had pulled out a gap. Van Gisbergen, with no penalty forthcoming it seemed, was hounded by the attentions of round One winner Madison Down. By lap 12, with a tenth here and a tenth there, the real-world V8 Superstar pulled in the leader, taking Down with him. Fourth placed McLeod could only watch as a three way fight for the lead developed in front. Very close behind him was his NFinity Esports teammate Rens Broekman.
By Lap 15 Van Gisbergen was all over Read, and Down was all over The Giz. The spectator gallery, full yet again, was enjoying this. Into Turn 7A at the bottom of the hill Read had Van Gisbergen sliding up the inside and through into the lead. It would have been clean but for a Van Gisbergen left rear making contact with a Read right front, putting Read out high and dry with no track remaining. Down needed no second invitation and pounced for second. Read to third.
Read did not take this lying down and gave Down a couple of taps into the hairpin and beyond.
“He definitely had my attention well on truly focused on the mirror not on the road ahead of me” said Down. It was real-world V8 Supercar stuff, but it allowed Van Gisbergen to escape up the road.
It stayed this way, see-sawing somewhat, Van Gisbergen-Down-Read, with Read desperate to recover his lost ground. On Lap 20 at Turn 7A, the scene of his previous grief, he tried to fill a wedge-shaped gap inside Down and got pinched, looping it back to fifth behind Rens Broekman, who was otherwise lonely with his teammate McLeod four seconds ahead.
Read then had to try the same tricks on Broekman and gave him scarcely a moments rest, Broekman defending heavily in places.
Mick Claridge was almost unnoticed in sixth place. Simon Madden, Dylan Gulson and Michael McCabe were having a race-long fight over seventh, eighth and ninth. Shay Griffith was hanging onto tenth by a whisker, wearing George Fullerton all over the back of him like a bad suit.
McLaughlin’s connection problems sidelined him for more or less the entire race, salvaging 19th place, one lap down. Fullerton, with at least 11th place in the bag, suffered the same connection fate, his car lighting up like a disco within sight of the flag.
Eventually The Giz triumphed by over 3 seconds from Down, with a similar gap back to McLeod, who had played the tyre conservation game well.”(Third place was) not really deserved tonight but it pays to keep your nose clean I guess!”
“He definitely had my attention” -Down on Read
Broekman held off a frustrated Peter Read for fourth. Read was unhappy with Van Gisbergen’s Lap 15 move, but the replay showed that the light contact, while Van Gisbergen was applying some opposite lock, made the Hyper Stimulator NZ Falcon steer left into the Target car of Read, entwining them awkwardly. “I had plenty of wheel in it” asid Van Gisbergen later, which is racer code for “I was trying not to hit you!”.
“Bummer” said Read. “It would have been a great duel”.
Claridge held onto sixth place, while Gulson got past Madden for seventh. Behind Madden was Craig Woodhouse, Shay Griffith, McCabe, Laszlo Kotrocz, Stuart Wood, Guy Leach, and the battle-scarred Harris in fifteenth.
In splits 2-4, the winners were Cal Whatmore, Stephen Jones and Kristian Lindbom, with over 85 competitors registering for the one “main event” timeslot.
As the sim racers pounded the virtual pavement at Infineon, over at the real-world Watkins Glen, Aussie Marcos Ambrose scored his maiden win in Sprint Cup. The Antipodeans will be hoping to pick up some of that fortune as they move to the virtual ‘Glen for Week Three.
Screen shots courtesy of BigPond Sport.
DIVISION TABLE- All divisions
|19||Danis Richard||2||Central-Eastern Europe||230|
|20||Edward Van Velsen||2||Australia/NZ||226|
|21||Ray Butcher||3||California Club||222|
|24||Miguel Vinatea Bueno||3||Iberia||216|
|29||Mertol Shahin||2||Central-Eastern Europe||203|
|32||Stefan Miller||2||Western Canada||200|
|34||Shane van Gisbergen||1||Australia/NZ||196|