LUFF READY TO FIRE FINAL SHOT TOMORROW Decina Racing's Warren Luff has put on his best performance of the season during race one of the final round of the HPDC V8 Supercar series turning a potentially disastrous clutch problem off the start...
LUFF READY TO FIRE FINAL SHOT TOMORROW
Decina Racing's Warren Luff has put on his best performance of the season during race one of the final round of the HPDC V8 Supercar series turning a potentially disastrous clutch problem off the start into a fine display of driving to capture fourth.
The Phillip Island race was eventually won by Ford's Adam Macrow, with Championship leader Dean Canto in second, but it was Luff who stole the limelight with a controlled charge from mid field.
With the Decina Falcon's clutch slipping off the start line, Luff fell from fifth to 11th by turn one and it looked as though the season finale would finish with a wimper for the team.
However, an incident coming out of turn one involving Mark Porter and Grant Denyer brought out the safety car, giving the Decina Falcon's clutch a chance to cool down and Luff a chance to refocus.
When racing went back to green, Luff began fighting his way through the field setting consistently fast times that included a 1:35.8237, the first fastest lap of a race for Luff this season.
Luff continued his charge through the field until he closed in on third placed Tony D'Alberto in the later stages of the race, but with the Decina Falcon's tyres fading due to his efforts throughout the race, Luff was unable to pass.
"Our initial start was really good. The car launched quite well, but when I got to the top end of first gear the clutch started to slip and when I grabbed second it was full clutch slip into third," said Luff.
"It just had nothing, so I was off the accelerator trying to see if I could get the clutch back and went back quite a few spots. So really on the first half of the lap I just was praying that the clutch would come back.
"Then down into four for the first time there was a huge accident and I thought there might be a safety car which we got and the clutch was able to cool down sufficiently and we were able to get enough clutch back to finish the race.
"Despite the clutch overheating, the car was really good. It was certainly quick and that was proved by the fact that we went quicker than we did in qualifying, which shows are going in the right direction with the car.
Luff said although there wasn't a reverse order race this weekend at Phillip Island when the lights went green again after the safety car period it certainly felt like it was one.
"But I must say the driving standard out there today was very good, the slower guys really got out of the way and made my job a lot easier coming through the field and at a place like this with the closing speeds you can have on cars it was nice to see people watching their mirrors."
While happy with his race overall, Luff is looking to challenge for a win in the last race of the 2005 HPDC V8 Supercar Series and is confident there is still some more in the car.
"I think perhaps we could try and improve the car a little bit more for the final race just so we can battle out all the way to the finish.
"It's always a bit of fun when you have got to fight your way back and to have such a quick car that allowed me to do that and even be going quicker than the leaders for the majority of the race is a real testament to the team.
"Now tomorrow we start from position four and with a good start and no clutch slip we can hopefully capitalize on that speed for a race win tomorrow.
Decina Racing team owner Jim Morton was pleased with the outcome of race despite the problems at the start of the race, and believes a race win is possible after the speed the Decina Falcon showed.
" I think we have almost saved our best for last," said Morton after the race.
"Warren had a clutch issue at the start but he drove really well and I think a part from one or two laps he was the fastest throughout the race, eventually setting the fastest lap of the race which is something that we have been trying to do all year.
"I think we have finally found the right package, although it might be a little late in the year, but I think we can go out in the final race and win it and make it a good end to the season.
While Morton conceded the championship was most likely out of reach of the Decina team, he still was confident Luff and the Decina Falcon had what it takes to end the year on a high.
"We would certainly like to win the championship, however I think Dean Canto has pretty much wrapped up the championship and he deserves it.
Canto is now 27 points in front of Luff with just one race to go. This means in order for Luff to take the championship he must win race two and Canto must finish outside the top 10.
"If Canto continues to drive as he has all season there is not much we can do about that (winning the championship) but we would certainly like to finish the season on a good note with a win."
The championship will be decided over 19 laps of the final race of the HPDC Supercar series. Race two at Phillip Island will begin at 1.20pm on Sunday.