In a tense and nervy opening encounter for the 2018 V8 Supercar Online Premier Series season opener, Trans Tasman Racing’s Jarrad Filsell took victory in an instant classic but would feel the back of the steward’s hand after a dicey move with TTL Esports’ Joshua Rogers.
The day of reckoning loomed for many a driver as the pre-qualification began last weekend. Over 120 drivers took to qualify at the fiddily and unpredictable Road Atlanta as times would tumble down from the Friday to the Sunday. The top forty drivers would be joined however by the winner of the second split race which proved to be a good race in its own right as Trick Simsport’s Ross Rizzo picked up the win after chasing down a three second gap to Performance Sim Sports driver Stuart Vaughan over the course of the 28 lap event.
This booked Rizzo into qualifying and one that put a lot of drivers into a panic. The track very quickly heated up thanks to the iRacing Dynamic Track System and times would be fleeting at best. Everyone was aware that the most likely battle this season would be between Trans Tasman Racing and TTL Esports however both teams knew that those such as All Star Motorsports, Evolution Racing Team and Synergy Sim Racing all stood a legitimate chance of upset.
Shocks though were on the menu as a first individual pole position fell the way of Trans Tasman’s Jake Burton with a time of 1:20.095, a full tenth and a half quicker than his teammate and reigning champion, Jarrad Filsell in second. TTL’s hot prospect Joshua Rogers lined up third with Dayne Warren looking up to pace in fourth. Row three would consist of Evolution Racing Team’s Ethan Grigg-Gault and former champion and Supercar veteran Madison Down lined up sixth for TTR. Row four would be locked out by TTL as Richard Hamstead and Jake Moloney took seventh and eighth respectively while row five saw Torque inc.’s Mitchell McLeod and All Star’s Thomas McMillan occupy those positions.
Elsewhere on the grid, Emily Jones, the only female driver on the grid, started from twelfth place while the Sim Racing Observer iRankings current World Number One, Juan E Lopez started from a lowly position thirty.
The start was all about Filsell as he inched and clawed his way to the front of the field heading into the sweeping right hander of turn one however any hopes of a clean start would vanish in the first trip into the esses section as Down and Hamstead would collide, sending Down into McMillan and causing a partial block of the circuit, inviting out the first safety car of the season. The problems would not be over for Madison Down however after the incident as he would have his engine die on him in spectacular fashion, but luckily for him, he would be able to coast his dead Holden all the way to his pit box.
Racing would resume on lap four of sixty-one however the fireworks would fly on lap five and into lap six. Rogers would attempt the move on Burton into 10A and force the pole sitter up on two wheels, needing to serve a slowdown penalty. This would allow Dayne Warren into the picture as he would give Rogers a helping hand into turn number one, somehow allowing everyone to remain on the asphalt however the EGG, Grigg-Gault would sneak a way through before Burton and Warren would collide at turn three, makign Warren drop a further three positions down to seventh position.
Warren would not be deterred as he would dispatch of Moloney with relative ease before taking advantage of Hamstead and Burton scrapping on lap 11. Hamstead would get the switchback on Burton into turn 11 however with contact into turn 1 slowing both of them down, Warren would dive to the inside, picking up two positions and the pass of the season so far to reclaim fourth place.
The race would look to calm down before the first round of pit stops as Filsell looked to extend his lead at the front over Rogers. Cause for concern would soon arise as Evolution Racing Team’s Jake Blackhall would eat the door of SDC Motorsports’ Kyle Janes into 10A on lap seventeen, causing a spin and prompt evasive action by oncoming traffic. Around that time, the window would open, allowing Synergy Sim Racing’s Brenton Hobson in first to try and gain the advantage on the fresh rubber. He would soon be joined by Hamstead and Moloney who would play guinea pig for Rogers in the event.
Rogers would come in and fill the vehicle up as much as possible which would leave him in a predicament, behind Richard Hamstead coming out of the lane however with sensible brains prevailing, Hamstead would be overtaken in no time at all. Warren and Filsell would pit on lap twenty-three however Dayne would miss his pit box, costing him precious seconds as he slotted out behind Emily Jones, Jake Burton and Ethan Grigg-Gault. Filsell on the other hand would be in a much more dangerous situation as he negotiated with a feisty Rogers in the mirrors.
Rogers would elect not to make the move however as he sat in the draft looking to save fuel while Grigg-Gault began to turn the screw. He would make a sterling overtake on Jake Burton to continue his impressive run, playing the long game but gaining track position. Emily Jones would also have to showcase her skill as she would need to deal with the American Juan E Lopez. Lopez would short fill by five seconds in the opening stop, placing him inside the top ten however Jones would drive strong, not letting any opportunity fall the Vendaval Simracing driver’s way.
The second round of stops would open on lap thirty seven when once again, Both Richard Hamstead and Jake Moloney would play the undercut as they sat and waited for a full fuel stop, Moloney jumping his TTL teammate. Brenton Hobson would follow in just a lap later with Jake Burton in tow, Burton would leapfrog Hobson however would end up still behind Hamstead and Moloney, unable to jump the drivers he needed to. Ethan Grigg-Gault would be the next driver to dive down onto the lane and using his strategy to perfection, he would be able to leapfrog all of the Moloney train to get onto the podium.
Rogers would blink first in comparison to Filsell and with the gap extended to the drivers behind, he would come in and out with a sizeable gap to the EGG train behind. The hard charging Dayne Warren would also pit on lap thirty nine, coming out on the back of Jake Burton, bit between the teeth and pushing at laptimes equalling the leaders. Filsell would be the last of the leaders to dive onto the lane however he would overfuel his Holden, leaving himself two and a half seconds behind. Meanwhile Scott Cislowski would be the biggest help to his All Star teammate of Dayne Warren by staying out as long as possible, holding up Grigg-Gault et al to allow Warren the chance to attack.
Later that lap Cislowski would overcut turn 10A, triggering the iRacing Slowdown Penalty System, dropping out of the top five instantly before both Burton and Warren decided to attempt their best Dayne Warren impersonations, both getting past Hamstead at turn one. Hamstead would not be finished though as he would try to capitalize on Dayne’s handiwork however would run out of time at 10A, causing both to enter Tokyo Drift mode. Richard wouldn’t give up there as the TTL driver would attempt the move at turn one only to collide at turn three, losing considerable time in the process.
Brenton Hobson would run into issues on lap forty-five as his attempt to navigate the off sync Cislowski at 10A left Scott with nowhere to go, leaving Hobson to go broadside through 10B. More sparks would fly and tempers would get raised in the space of thirty seconds. Dayne Warren would make the move on the ERT driver of Grigg-Gault however Burton and Hamstead would ignite into an ugly fireball. The pair collided through the right hand kink of turn nine, leading Hamstead into the fence however after having no chance of straightening the car and straightlining the chicane, Hamstead and Burton would make contact again in a questionable move which some people thought to be in retaliation. Burton would have to serve a drive through penalty whilst Richard Hamstead would pit for damage repairs.
Meanwhile at the front, Jarrad Filsell had quietly reeled in the gap to Rogers down to under a second and began working on a plan to get around the eighteen year old. As the laps ticked down, the opportunities grew all the more important before Filsell, using an up and under attempt from the last corner, decided to attack on lap fifty-three. The room wouldn’t be there though as he would send Rogers spinning into the fence on the inside, collecting right rear damage. Filsell would let the position back through however would attack again later that lap, sending one to the inside at 10A, unsettling the walking wounded Ford of Rogers and picking the run out of 10B to inherit the race lead.
The stewards would come into play however with just a couple of laps remaining decreeing that Jarrad Filsell would be given a penalty worth fifteen championship points as he won by just 1.9 seconds over Rogers in second with Dayne Warren just a further six seconds behind in third. Ethan Grigg-Gault would hold off a marauding Jake Moloney in fourth and fifth each while groundhog day resumed again for Brenton Hobson, as a slew of sixth place finishes last season would increase at the start of this one. Emily Jones would continue her incredible rise in simracing as she came home in a career best seventh position while David Moore would hold off Trans Tasman’s Kurt Stenberg and Mitchell McLeod of Torque inc.
Elsewhere, Juan E Lopez would gain eighteen positions overall to finish in twelfth while Jake Burton would slump back with his penalty to fourteenth position, very frustrated with the way the race panned out. Ross Rizzo made good on his opportunity to race, finishing nineteenth overall while Madison Down got the engine repaired but could only labour to thirty-fourth.
Jarrad Filsell would get a slice of luck however with the incident points rule as all of his nearest rivals would pick up over fifteen incident points, subjecting them to point penalties. As such Filsell leads the championship by seven points ahead of Joshua Rogers. Ethan Grigg-Gault lies third ahead of Moloney and Hobson as Dayne Warren would pick up thirty seven incident points during the event, dropping him to sixth in the championship.
In the Team’s Championship, Trans Tasman hold a one two advantage with the HRS Harrop team of Filsell and Muggleton outscoring the Apex Replicas team of Emily Jones and Kurt Stenberg. TTL Esports hold the next two positions with the Jake Moloney and Mitch Ciolak team ahead of the Rogers and Hamstead team while the Synergy Sim Racing Titanium 3 team of David Moore and Michael Schreyer sits fifth.
Round Two of the Virtual Racing School V8SCOPS series will be California bound at Sonoma Raceway which last season produced a thrilling last lap battle between rivals Filsell and Rogers. You can watch the coverage of the series presented by V8s Online on the Virtual Racing School Facebook page and the V8s Online YouTube channel with V8s Online coverage starting at 7AM GMT with race coverage starting at 8:15AM GMT where VRS Facebook viewers will see the action.
There are no hard feelings between Filsell and Rogers however that was clarly not the case in the rivalry of Hamstead and Burton. Like Montagues and Capulets, not even Shakespeare could write a drama like V8SCOPS, and in this series, the impossible becomes plausible, and the plausible becomes near certainty.