Gilliam Puts the Field on Notice at Mosport

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WORDS: Ryan Jones

Round seven of the 2020 Virtual Racing School V8SCOPS season rolled into Canadian Tire Motorsports Park with Pre-Qualifying throwing some new names into the top split mix. Pre-qualifying was tight but qualifying somehow tighter still; with all 40 drivers covered by just 0.846 seconds, Andrew Gilliam from Pursuit Sim Racing emerged as the man to beat.

Andrew Gilliam – “After rounding out prequalifying in 3rd I knew we had a good shot at being a contender coming into the Sunday event. I topped the practice session before qualifying and that was when I thought, I have really good pace and the potential to put this thing on pole, it’s all on me whether we get the top spot or not.”… “I never felt safe until the last car crossed the line at the end of qualifying”

“I was ecstatic with that qualifying performance. I was able to maximise every last drop of pace out of the car and put together 3 really fast and consistent attempts which put us on pole for the 2nd race as well.”

Gilliam held the lead from the outset as he fended off early pressure from proven race winners, Jordan Ross and Madison Down, unfortunately his PSR teammate Tom Freer’s flailing car triggered a melee which brought about an early Safety Car on lap seven. Drama behind on the ensuing restart gifted a one second margin to the race leader with Fawzan El-Nabi from United Sim Sports elevated to second position. The last seven laps of the race played out much the same as the first seven with Gilliam undergoing unrelenting pressure, albeit from El-Nabi rather than Ross. The top four condensed drastically in the closing laps but Gilliam proved to all just how good his defensive chops were and took the chequered flag to claim his first ever V8SCOPS race win in a lights-to-flag performance.

AG – “I wanted to nail everything so there was definitely big pressure to not put a foot wrong to finally seal the deal on a first SCOPS win for Pursuit Sim Racing.” … “It was probably some of the most pressure I had ever been in before in my life” … “when I wasn’t able to produce a gap and they had a run on me, I had to fight off big pressure attacks from some of the best competitors in Australia to cross the line first.”

Still on a high from career-best qualifying and race results, the Pursuit Sim Racing representative was tasked with regaining his composure ahead of the 36-lap feature race, only this time there was a pit stop cycle to complicate matters as well. It was relatively straightforward for the first 15 laps, aside from Jordan Ross breathing down his neck, until Ross went for the undercut and dove to pit lane. Gilliam was forced to respond on the following lap in order to cover off the fresh tyre advantage, but it was still a lap too late as he re-joined behind Ross in what was a net second position. This proved to be no issue in what was quickly becoming one of the series’ stand out performances as like a tiger stalking his prey, Gilliam pounced up the inside of the unsuspecting Ross at the final corner on lap 22. The gap at the front remained at half a second for the rest of the race but the Synergy Sim Racing driver was never close enough to get back by. Andrew Gilliam crossed the line to record back to back race victories in V8SCOPS, subsequently walking away with his first ever round win as well.

AG – “I was confident in my pace coming off the back of the race 1 victory, so I knew it was going to be down to strategy and track position to get the win. We believed there was going to be traffic when Jordan pitted so we stayed out to get the overcut but right as Jordan pitted the mid-pack traffic around him also pitted shortly after. We had to come in ASAP and when we did, we were 1.5s off Jordan so I had to switch my mindset from defence to offence to get to him and make the move.”

After a breakout round in which Gilliam finally picked up many of his long awaited V8SCOPS achievements – race win and round win – all eyes will be on not only him but Pursuit Sim Racing to see if their form can be recreated in the next round on 26 July at Virginia International Raceway.

 AG – “Our goal last year and this year has been to become SCOPS contenders, but in the last few rounds we have clearly displayed the pace to be a contender. Now, our goal is to put this hard work and momentum into achieving more round wins and the SCOPS championship.
Massive shout out to our team sponsors Trak Racer, MXTV and Sixth Gear Imagery for their support. Without them we could not be here doing what we love, and I am stoked to finally deliver such a massive result for them. Also, massive shout out to the team, Pursuit Sim Racing. We have been putting in so many hours week in week out trying to understand what makes this car tick and I wouldn’t be here without the support of the whole team.”

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