Round 7 of the iRacing.com V8 Supercar Championship paid areturn visit to the Land of the Rising Sun at 4.8km Twin Ring Motegi. With ANZ drivers Justin Ruggier and Scott McLaughlin returning this week it was‘game on’ and, with most of the drivers having a break over Christmas and NewYears, it would be the series’ last big online race of 2012.
Ruggier would take pole position with a 1:53.456 justedging Madison Down (1:53.520) with Rens Broekman and Vail Riches starting fromthe second row. Richard Hamstead and Scott McLaughlin comprised Row Three aheadof John Emerson and Mitchell McLeod on the fourth row with Shaun Kelly andCorey Slade rounding-out the top 10.
When the lights went green it was Ruggier leading into TurnOne with Broekman and Down side-by-side for second place, with Down maintaininghis second place and Broekman slotting back into P3. Behind them, a bigmid-field crash saw Slade clout McLeod’s rear bumper through the first turn,sending McLeod around. Slade got launched over his tyre and into afull rotation barrel roll which ended-up with the Falcon V8 back onto its fourwheels.
A lot of cars suffered collateral damage in the incident,but more was to come. McLaughlin and Broekman battled until a mistakeby Broekman allowed McLaughlin through. Then as Hamstead came upalongside him, Broekman understeered and — with a little bit of net code — sentHamstead around. Everyone was able to get by, that is until a recovering Sladehit Hamstead head on, giving Hamstead the dubious honour of being the first DNFof the race. At that he just edged Cal Whitmore, who retired on Lap Twoowing to his first lap damage with team McLeod destined to join him on thesidelines.
Happily, the race settled-down for a spell and Lap 10 sawBroekman come into the lane, trying to undercut McLaughlin. On thefollowing laps John Emerson and Riches would also pit in their efforts to jumpMcLaughlin as well as Scott opted for a longer first stint and a shorter secondstint. Down would try to undercut Ruggier when he came into pit on Lap 13 butRuggier reacted straight away and pitted as well, covering Down and retainingthe lead when he rejoined the action.
Ruggier now led with Down five seconds back in second andEmerson up into third after leap-frogging Broekman on the pit stopexchange. Similarly, Riches would come out ahead of McLaughlin but whenMcLaughlin pitted on Lap 15 the fresher tyres allowed the ANZ sim racer tocatch and pass his rival.
As the laps wound down it was clear no one had anything forRuggier here in Japan as he cruised to a commanding win over Down, with Emersonjoining them on the podium after one of his best drives. McLaughlinmaintained fourth place ahead of Broekman while Riches came home in sixth withMitchell Abrahall’s great drive resulting in seven positions gained and aseventh place finish. Another great drive by Scott Fountain saw him movefrom 18th on the grid to finish in eighth position ahead of Michael Fabian andSamuel Collins.
Next week the drivers head to Spa in Belgium but due to therace being on Christmas Eve, a thin grid is expected.
Top Five Drivers – Championship Points – Overall
1. Richard Hamstead – 1714
2. Rens Broekman – 1618
3. Madison Down – 1506
4. John Emerson – 1443
5. Vail Riches – 1439
Split Two Winner:Robert Hartley
Split Three Winner:Kane Baxter-Smith
Split Four Winner:Glen Frencham
Broadcast done by the crew at www.v8sonline.com.au