After a long period away from the magnificent Watkins Glen circuit, Round 11 of the iRacing V8 Supercar Series made a welcome return to what is one of the sim racers’ favourite tracks on the calendar. Ethan Grigg-Gault, so dominant so far this season after a strong performance earlier during the week was deservedly confirmed as the Series 3/2015 Champion after a season that showed that speed and consistency always pays off.
The track conditions that greeted the drivers ensured that the lap times would be quick with the track temp at 39 degrees. For the first time in his V8 career Evolution Racing Australia’s Marcello Rivera captured the coveted pole position with a lap time of1:45.873. Series elect Champion Ethan Grigg-Gault continued his recent improvement in qualifying with a strong lap ensuring he would be starting next to Rivera on the front row of the grid. Beau Cattel, a noted strong starter in 3rd and potential series runner up Ian Ford to start in the 4th position.
22 starters greeted the green light as it started the 18 lap race; an orderly processional start saw the field slice through the challenging turn two, three and four, esses complex as the field entered the back straight. In 6th gear making the most of the slipstream effect of the three leading Holden’s, Ian Ford went from fourth to second in what was a fantastically committed move.
Rivera, a recent winner of the Star Mazda Australian Championship, continued to show his stringing in the sim by leading the early laps, Grigg-Gault, dropped down to as far as 5th behind team mate Beau Cubis with Beau Cattell taking the early third position.
Lap Three saw the two ERA cars swap positions for the lead with Ford taking the lead, being the same lap that Corey Preston and Ben Smith had an incident that caused damage to both cars, ending the race of the Apexi car of Preston.
Beau Cattell with the locking of his rear brakes on entry to the outer loop carousel entry had a great save to stay in the race, however, let Cubis and Grigg-Gault through. With no damage to his car, Cattell would go on to finish in fifth position.
Havoc would be created on lap 11. The battling pack of Aaron Hamilton, Mitch McLeod and a trailing Marty Carroll, jostling for the sixth, seventh and eighth position. On the entry of turn one, McLeod, braking too late hit the rear of the Hamilton car creating carnage with a totally innocent Carroll having no where to go with the spinning Hamilton car crossing in front. Both cars sustained substantial damage whilst McLeod was able to continue on. Jason Quire running down the order spun into turn one at the same time from an unrelated incident.
Throughout the race multiple race winner and series champion Grigg-Gault cleared team mate Cubis and battled past pole man Rivera through to second, releasing him to attack the race leader Ian Ford. From a gap of two seconds Grigg-Gault put himself into a position where with two laps to go he was able to challenge for the lead. At Turn 8 Grigg-Gault was able to stick his nose to the inside of Ford’s Commodore. Ford though with better drive out of the turn was able to hold on to the lead where after another brief challenge was able to take his second win for the season after his Oulton Park triumph. The SDC Motorsports car of Grigg maintained his second position and Rivera continued his great outing with his first podium position in the V8 category in third position. Beau Cubis, having a relatively quiet race continued his consistency to bring his car home in an eventual fourth.
Next week the race of all races at the track that the V8 was born and bred to perform. Bathurst. The race will be a two stop endure over 35 laps of the Mount Panorama circuit in what should be a great way to end what has been a fantastic season. Now that the pressure of the Championship has been released it will be interesting to see how the cars fare at the most challenging race of the season.