ROLLINSON GETS THE WINTON PITLANE BUZZING WITH 10TH ON FUJITSU V8 SERIES DEBUT Young Auckland racing driver Gene Rollinson had the pitlane at Victoria's Winton Motor Raceway buzzing over the weekend as he made one of the most impressive...
ROLLINSON GETS THE WINTON PITLANE BUZZING WITH 10TH ON FUJITSU V8 SERIES DEBUT
Young Auckland racing driver Gene Rollinson had the pitlane at Victoria's Winton Motor Raceway buzzing over the weekend as he made one of the most impressive Fujitsu V8 Supercar series debuts on record.
Despite only getting the callup to driver the Race Image/Prodigy Motorsport Ford Falcon BA V8 late last week the 22-year-old Aucklander finished 10th overall after qualifying 20th and improving with each race to finish a weekend-best eighth in the 25 lap final.
It was a stand-out performance for the five-time New Zealand kart champion who went on to win the New Zealand Formula Challenge single-seater series at Taupo but so far has only had limited experience in our own Parker ENZED NZV8s series.
"I'm stoked," Rollinson said as he and his father Paul were heading to the airport to return to New Zealand. "Especially to get into the top ten first time out. Going into the weekend my expectations, if you like, were probably top 20 and because everyone was telling me that the cars were so hard to drive I certainly wasn't looking at anything in the top ten."
But top ten it was, with Rollinson working his way up from 20th at the start to 14th at the flag in the first 14 lap race of the weekend on Saturday, then going from 14th to 11th in the second race on Sunday morning and 14th to eighth in the longer 25 lap final race on Sunday afternoon.
In the first race, held on a dry track on Saturday afternoon he worked his way up the field early on only to be hit exiting the hairpin and sent spinning off the track. He was able to rejoin but then had to work his way back up to 14th place after being as far back as 30th after the spin.
In the second race, held on a wet track, Rollinson got what he describes as a 'really good' start, working his way around the outside of at least three cars heading into the chicane and getting as high as eighth place before the track started drying and the wet set up and wet tyres started working against him.
That meant he got shuffled back several places before the rain started again, the wet tyres and set up came back into their own and he was able to cross the line in 11th position.
That meant he started the 25 lap final from 14th spot on the grid from where he ran in a four car freight train behind top local driver Robert Jones and in front of regular New Zealand visitor Shannon O'Brien before Jones went wide and O'Brien was able to pass both cars and claim sixth spot.
Eighth wasn't nothing to sniff at in the circumstances however, Rollinson ahead of regular Fujitsu series front-runners Mathew White, Mark McNally and Tim Slade.
Though it was just a one-off drive Rollinson certainly raised some eyebrows at the meeting, where the Fujitsu V8s shared the limelight with the main V8 Supercar series.
He also impressed the team he was running with, as much because he adapted so quickly to the extra power and sophistication of the Australian-spec V8 Supercars which produce almost twice as much power and the Parker ENZED NZV8s ones.
There was no time to dwell on the success however as Rollinson was due home today to prepare to get back on a plane and fly to Germany for the annual 24 Hour race at the Nurburgring where he is sharing a New Zealand-prepared Honda Civic Type R with three other New Zealand drivers.
-credit: fast company