The 2016 V8 Supercars Championship went right down to the wire at the Long Beach circuit, with a new champion crowned as a retiring veteran bowed out. The streets of Long Beach promised to throw up challenges to the drivers, with tyre barriers, concrete walls, and that pesky roundabout all offering up their fair share of incidents.
Qualifying was relatively business as usual, the early running showed once again that the three championship contenders would continue battling for the title. The surprise at the end of the session was seeing The Doc at the back of the field after being unable to improve on a 1:32.698 during the session. Hyboi impressed managing to wrangle third place off title leader MRN3Drifter who started fourth. Alsimo continued to show steady pace in his return to the grid, achieving a fifth place start ahead of z00lu. Clasfied Hunter and Woebegone6 started on the fourth row with deadx89 starting ahead of The Doc. At the end of the session Scav3nger claimed pole with an astonishing 1:22.945, six tenths clear of Caderz who posted a 1:23.616. The hunt for the championship was on.
Right off the start Drifter made his intentions clear, passing Hyboi before turn 1. Through the first half of the lap the remainder of the field was as posted. Until the exit onto the back straight caught the rear half of the field when a car drove it in too deep and ended up in the tyres bringing out the safety car. z00lu, deadx89 and Alsimo all made pit stops under the safety car to repair damage and rejoined at the back of the field. Racing got underway again quickly, with the field able to compress to restart the race on lap 3.
z00lu in his final round of full time driving was in the thick of the action as the front three held station for the majority of the race. Woebe, Hunter, and Doc formed a battle pack as Hyboi managed to keep pace with Drifter who appeared to be lacking straight line speed. On lap 7 Caderz sized up a move on Scav3nger on the back straight, but it didn’t eventuate, perhaps if a championship wasn’t at stake he might have stuck the nose in. Hyboi pitted on lap 9, the first of the leading quartet to blink potentially sizing up an undercut on Drifter who would pit with Caderz on the next lap. After the pit stops the order was as they were, Scav3nger leading Caderz, both crucially ahead of championship leader Drifter. Hyboi unfortunately dropped back from the leading pack and just a few laps latter unfortunately dropped from Race 1.
Woebe managed to jump z00lu in the pitstops, the retiring veteran thought he had the Second Degree driver covered but Woebe managed to pull a fast lap out of his bag of tricks and cleared z00lu as he came out of the pit lane.
Disaster struck on lap 14 as Scav3nger drove into turn 6 too early and in an attempt to roll out of it ended up in the fence on the exit of the corner destroying the front right of his car. Caderz collected the rear of the #17 Mercedes and suffered damage that resulted in him dropping to third place by the start of the following lap. Without Hyboi the trio had put a massive lead on the rest of the field allowing Caderz to maintain third without the need to pit. Despite his best efforts to hold onto the lead, Scav3nger eventually lost out on the back straight, unable to get maximum speed out of the car. It was all coming up roses for Drifter who cruised to victory in Race 1. Ahead of Scav3nger, Caderz, Woebe, z00lu, Doc, Alsimo, and Hunter, with deadx89 and Hyboi failing to finish.
With Drifter claiming the first race of the night, it all came down to the reverse grid race. The numbers were crunched and the realisation set in that Scav3nger was likely out of the hunt as he would need to win and have Drifter finish outside the top 5, something which had only happened once all season for the championship leader. For Caderz it was still a chance, he would need Drifter to finish 5th and take the win in order to claim the title.
Hyboi started from the pole after the disconnect during race 1, with deadx and Hunter behind. Both Alsimo and Woebe had shocking starts with the pair ending up at the back of the field before turn 1. Scav3nger attempted an ambitious dive on Doc into turn 1 but bailed at the last moment to avoid causing a potentially large pileup. During this Alsimo managed to get around the outside and moved ahead leaving the Second Degree cars at the back of the pack.
Further ahead Caderz had already moved clear of Doc and z00lu, moving onto deadx and his team mate Hunter. Drifter had a close battle with Woebe and Doc but would clear them eventually and begin hunting down z00lu. Pushing for position now that Caderz was in the lead, Drifter got stuck behind z00lu, the retiring Moobie Madness boss was not going to give up a potential podium that easily. Before long Drifter found himself in a three way battle as Scav3nger ranged up on the pair, recovering now that balance and pace had returned to the car from his race 1 collision. Drifter and Scav3nger would trade positions, and paint, as they stumbled over each other giving z00lu more time in the podium position. As the trio continue their battle, Woebegone joined in to make it a four way fight and was able to pass Drifter for a time, giving Caderz a championship winning position and Scav3nger some much needed breathing space to chase z00lu for the final step on the podium. Hyboi was having a quiet race ahead of the pair as Caderz had bolted.
In the dying stages of the race Woebe put the car into the turn 8 tyre barrier, handing fifth back to Drifter and closing the title race up again. Unfortunately it would not be enough for the man dubbed “Mr Consistent” as Scav3nger and z00lu had moved too far ahead for Drifter to make the positions required to claim the title.
Caderz came home in first place to take the victory and claim the 2016 championship, with the Moobie Madness pair of Hyboi and z00lu in second and third, achieving a double podium finish in z00lu’s last outing as a full-time driver. Scav3nger came home in fourth ahead of Drifter, solidifying third place in the championship he was never hunting. Woebegone6 finished sixth ahead of The Doc in 7th. With deadx89 the last of the finishers claiming 8th place. Alsimo and Hunter failed to finish.
That wraps up the CANZ 2016 V8 Supercars Championship. We look forward to seeing you all on track again next year!