We all know the fiendishly accurate iRacing simulation replicates motorsport superbly, but the lines between simulation and reality were blurred even more for Race One, Split One of the iRacing.com V8 Supercar series on Monday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. After spending some time on the virtual ovals,  top level V8 Supercar star Shane Van Gisbergen joined the regular V8 sim racers even as regular V8 iRacer and real world competitor Scott McLaughlin continued enjoying his online racing exploits in the iRacing series.

New Zealand’s Van Gisbergen is well known to Antipodeans as the Stone Brothers Racing strongman, having a race win and multiple top three finishes under his belt in the main game. Young Kiwi-born Gold Coast resident Scott McLaughlin currently runs in the New Zealand BNT V8 Supercar series. He impressed many at the Townsville V8 Supercar street race in 2010, being the tender age of 17.

It was fitting to see such a strong, high-profile showing from the Land of the Long White Cloud at Mid-Ohio – as our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with their kinsfolk as they recover from the tragic earthquakes in Christchurch.

Choice, Bro! Everybody wanted a piece of Van Gisbergen.

So “The Giz” was on pole with a 1 min 23.533, from previous week’s winner Michael McCabe who posted a 1 min 23. 871. Scott Andrews was the last qualifier in the 23s with a 1 min 23.910, an impressive effort from the V8 first timer. Next up was Shay Griffth with Tim Roach, Simon Madden, George Fullerton, Darrin Vouch, Wayne Harris and Wiktor Bubniak rounding-out the top ten in a field of sixteen.

At the green it was Van Gisbergen from McCabe. Fullerton made a shocker of a start with clutch woes, dropping from grid seven to last. “I selected first gear and the car lurched forward . . . race over.” said Fullerton who duly pitted at the end of Lap One to face the virtual marshals.

Meanwhile, Madden had spun-out of fifth place gassing up too much out of Turn Four while Scott Andrews and Shay Griffith had gone door handle-to-door handle for third place down the long back straight and they remained inseparable all through the Esses complex. Eventually Andrews prevailed. That made it Van Gisbergen, McCabe, Andrews, Griffith, Roach and Vouch, covered by less than two seconds for the first five laps.

Simon Madden spins-out of fifth place.

A little further back came Harris continuing the New Zealand tribute theme with his Seeka Kiwifruit Falcon. He was pipped for seventh by Infineon nearly-man Scott McLaughlin on Lap Six.  McLaughlin was making a huge charge from the back of the grid, the busy real-world racer having had no time to qualify.

Darrin Vouch in his retro Dick Johnson Tribute had a relatively trouble free run to sixth.

The real world V8 Supercar stars were not stealing the show entirely, with McCabe applying intense pressure to Van Gisbergen lap after lap. Occasionally, Andrews would begin to fill McCabe’s mirrors, which gave The Giz some breathing space, but it was usually temporary. By Lap 10 the top five were still covered by barely over two seconds.

The racing to secure a top ten position was equally vigorous. DE AT CH’s Fabian Jastremski and Simon Madden clashed under braking into the hairpin, putting Jastremski back into 12th place. Madden then dispensed with Harris for eighth place and set off to try and bridge the sizeable gap to McLaughlin. This put Harris at the mercy of Matthew Nethercote and the impressive rookie Andrew Le, with a recovering Jastremski on his tail. The trio hounded Harris mercilessly, smelling blood as Harris struggled with a poor setup. Eventually Harris’ nine lives expired. “I felt like a mobile chicane for the rest of the race until the right front exploded with two laps to go, and that was that,” said Harris after a stout defence.

Harris was hounded by V8 rookie Andrew Le, Nethercote and Jastremski.

The racing to secure a top ten position was equally vigorous. DE AT CH’s Fabian Jastremski and Simon Madden clashed under braking into the hairpin, putting Jastremski back into 12th place. Madden then dispensed with Harris for eighth place and set off to try and bridge the sizeable gap to McLaughlin. This put Harris at the mercy of Matthew Nethercote and the impressive rookie Andrew Le, with a recovering Jastremski on his tail. The trio hounded Harris mercilessly, smelling blood as Harris struggled with a poor setup. Eventually Harris’ nine lives expired. “I felt like a mobile chicane for the rest of the race until the right front exploded with two laps to go, and that was that,” said Harris after a stout defence

Up front, Van Gisbergen had managed to put two seconds between himself and McCabe, who was ruing his tactics in the opening laps of the race, saying, “I was not aggresive enough at the start…(Van Gisbergen) was so consistently fast and had great pace at the end of the race.”

“I was not aggressive enough at the start…(Van Gisbergen) was so consistently fast and had great pace at the end of the race” – Michael McCabe.

McCabe kept him within striking distance, and Andrews did likewise back in third. But this is how it stayed nonetheless, the Infineon winner unable to do any more. Van Gisbergen triumphed with a gap of just over two seconds in another memorable iRacing V8 Supercar series fight.

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