Race Report: V8 Supercars 2018.
20 December 2018.
Phoenix Road Course.
Our stand-alone V8 Supercar event has always been a fun way to round-off a busy season of racing. There were some big changes in place for 2018 however. In previous years, the cars have been largely raced straight out of the box, and have been a bit of a handful to control. This year, each of the cars has been modified, with the standard chassis replaced with a tailor-made 3D printed flex chassis, produced by JS Chassis Designs. Each car has been set-up slightly differently too, with ride-height and running gear as well as performance, varying from car to car. With this being a rotation class, the racer taking the spoils at the end of the night, would need to extract performance from each car.
V8 Supercar entrants (grid slot/controller position in brackets):
#51 PWR Holden (1)
#1 Pirtek Ford (2)
#6 Caterpillar Ford (3)
#3 Fuchs/Sleepyhead Holden (4)
Free practice suggested that the Pirtek Ford lead the way on raw pace, with the #6 Ford not far behind. The #3 Holden ran far less in practice, and while this car’s handling was smooth and predictable, it appeared down on power.
Anthony Away Well
As race one got underway, it was Anthony who assumed the lead from pole position. He did well to maintain his lead in opening laps, with Darren snapping at his heels with the swifter Ford. The pressure finally told on lap eight, with Anthony spinning off. Darren powered away into a lead he would not surrender for the remaining 62 laps.
Behind the leader, Steve had beaten Norman off the line, and – despite lacking outright pace with the orange Holden – was close enough to take advantage of Anthony’s woes and nick second place. Once up and running, Anthony quickly fought back to retake the place. Steve meanwhile, had used his fuel up trying to keep pace with the leaders, and was first to make his pit stop.
For the second stint, Steve switched to a more conservative strategy, taking on a little more fuel and conserving throughout the second stint. Running much deeper into the race, he was able to retake second in the pits, running there til the chequered flag.
Race One Result:
1st Darren – #1 Ford (2) – 80 laps
2nd Steve – #3 Holden (4) – 77 laps
3rd Anthony – #51 Holden (1) – 75 laps
4th Norman – #6 Ford (3) – 67 laps)
Fastest Lap: Darren – 5.897
Race two was a tight battle – largely contested by Steve and Anthony. A cagey affair which was settled by the pit crews, the lead changed hands a couple of times, as the two racers switched between aggressive early pace to fuel-saving strategies in the later stages.
In the mix
It had started with Lee firmly in the mix for the lead, however. Though with pace more readily available with Steve and Anthony’s cars, Lee was pushing far harder to stay with the leaders. Using his fuel at an alarming rate, he was to drop away from the lead battle and had to settle for third. Back at the front, it was Steve who made his strategy work best, taking the race win.
Race Two Result:
1st Steve – #1 Ford (2) – 80 laps
2nd Anthony – #6 Ford (3) – 79 laps
3rd Lee – #51 Holden (1) – 77 laps
4th Norman – #3 Holden (4) – 67 laps
Fastest Lap: Lee – 5.479
Lee was to get his challenge for V8 Supercars glory back on track in race three, taking the lead from Steve on the back straight on the opening lap and staying there for the whole race. Steve’s focus was to shift to defence as he came under attack from the hard charging Darren in the Caterpillar Ford. Steve was ultimately able to build a decent enough lead – one he managed to consolidate through again managing his fuel in the second stint.
Behind them, George struggled with the pace of the orange Holden, and could manage no better than fourth.
Race Three Result:
1st Lee – #1 Ford (2) – 80 laps
2nd Steve – #51 Holden (1) – 79 laps
3rd Darren – #6 Ford (3) – 78 laps
4th George – #3 Holden (4) – 76 laps
Fastest Lap: Lee – 5.514
Each of the races contested thus far being won by racers using the Pirtek Ford, it was clear that whoever could win in one of the other cars would be very well-placed to take overall honours. With his sole result thus far a distant fourth place in race three, George was hoping for a change of fortunes in race four, and with Rookie Norman at the wheel of the Pirtek Ford, he had one eye on race victory.
Anthony fights back
He made a reasonable start from pole, but was to spin off early on. Lee was quick to take advantage, but both of them were taken aback by Anthony’s performance in the #3 Holden. The car had received limited running in free practice, and its lack of pace in the opening three races was clearly caused by this. The Holden was hugely improved in race four, and Anthony took full advantage to take the lead.
Anthony still had work to do. The Holden was quick, but it appeared to be a little thirstier than the cars under Lee and George’s control. It was therefore a combination of outright pace in the early stages, balanced with a more thoughtful approach later on which secured Anthony a valuable win. Lee (2nd) and George (3rd) had no answer to Anthony’s performance. With Anthony still to race the undoubtedly fastest car, he was looking good for the overall win.
Race Four Result:
1st Anthony – #3 Holden (4) – 80 laps
2nd Lee – #6 Ford (3) – 79 laps
3rd George – #51 Holden (1) – 77 laps
4th Norman – #1 Ford (2) – 72 laps
Fastest Lap: Anthony – 5.545
Predictably, Anthony was swift to take the lead in race five, starting from second on the grid in the Pirtek Ford. His closest challenger though was Lee – another driver who benefited from the upturn in performance from the orange Holden. And when Anthony spun out on lap 15, it was the #3 car which swept by into the lead.
Cat n’ Mouse
What followed was a game of cat and mouse between Anthony and Lee. Lee had lead for much of the first half of the race. He found he could maintain the pace required to stay ahead of Anthony, but he was using much more fuel to do so. The lead subsequently changed hands twice in the latter half of the race. At half distance, the leaders were running nose-to-tail on equal fuel. Both drivers pitted a lap either side of lap 50, with Lee short-fuelling to take back the lead. He would, of course need to pit again to get to the end of the race, but in this late stop he over-fuelled, allowing not just Anthony through to take the win, but George too slipped by into second.
Race Five Result:
1st Anthony – #1 Ford (2) – 80 laps
2nd George – #6 Ford (3) – 79 laps
3rd Lee – #3 Holden (4) – 79 laps
4th Darren – #51 Holden (1) – 78 Laps
Fastest Lap: George – 5.466
With Anthony securing his second win of the event in race five, nothing short of victory for Steve in race six would do if he was to take the event win. He faced a stern challenged from George, who was taking his turn in the Pirtek Ford.
Steve takes the win
Indeed, it was George who got away in the lead, but Steve was enjoying the comparative pace and handling of the other Ford Falcon, and was able to shadow George in the early stages. He seemed to be edging the leader for fuel consumption, and though he still emerged from his first stop in second, by the time the second stops were done and dusted, Steve had seized the lead. A slip up for George – spinning off with a dozen or so laps to go – gave Steve some breathing space, but he was to hold on to take the win and the 2018 title.
Race Six Result:
1st Steve – #6 Ford (3) – 80 laps
2nd George – #1 Ford (2) – 80 laps
3rd Darren – #3 Holden (4) – 78 laps
4th Norman – #51 Holden (1) – 67 laps
Fastest Lap: George – 5.573
V8 Supercar 2018 Final Standings:
So, at the end of a long season, Steve finally got his hands on some silverware for a class win. Also taking place tonight, our other winners from throughout the season were presented with their trophies:
Steve, V8 Supercars winner, 2018
Anthony, LMP/GT Endurance, DTM and Classic Saloons champion, 2018
Lee, Daytona Prototypes champion, 2018
Darren, Super Trucks and BTCC champion, 2018
George, Club NASCAR champion, 2018