PROTECNICA AND ALAJAJIAN OVERCOME EARLY RACE SETBACKS TO RECORD BEST SUPERCAR RESULT YET
Protecnica Racing and Chris Alajajian have recorded their best round result since entering the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series, with the Sydneysiders finishing sixth in Round 5 at Mallala Motorsport Park in South Australia, despite a frustrating race day.
After qualifying ninth, Alajajian continued his strong form in Race 1, advancing to finish fourth aboard the Jack Hillermans / Elf Lubricants Commodore. The 19 year-old continued his charge in the reverse-grid Race 2, moving from 24th on the grid to 14th place by Lap 5.
On Lap 7 he passed Shane Price to grab position 13, but a delaminating tyre from first corner contact began to cause problems shortly after, with Alajajian dropping to finish 19th.
"Race 1 was a pretty conservative race," said Alajajian. "We kept it clean and picked up fourth place which we were happy with.
"Unfortunately at the start of Race 2, I was alongside Nathan Pretty, and he came in on me, clipped the front of my car and spun around. It damaged the front left quarter panel on my car, which was rubbing against the tyre.
"By the end of the race, the side of the tyre was down to the metal tread, and I just couldn't brake with it. The tyre got worse throughout the race, and because I was having to brake earlier and earlier and went off the track a few times, I lost a lot of places."
Like Race 2, contact in the early stages of the final encounter had an undesired impact on Alajajian's race. Having started seventh, he was called into the pits by stewards after rear bodywork was damaged in the opening laps.
It dropped 'The Chris' to a lowly 25th place. Frustrated but undeterred, Alajajian charged back through the order - setting the fourth fastest race lap, 1:10.5461, in the process - to go from 25th to 11th place in the remaining 22 laps.
"I got clipped in the rear by someone very early, which ripped the rear diffuser off, so I got a mechanical black flag and had to come into the pits," explained Alajajian.
"Then after I had made up a few places, I passed Matt White, but he tapped me in the rear which spun me around and meant I had to re-pass four or five cars.
"We know that we have the pace and we showed today that Oran Park certainly wasn't a flash in the pan. The guys did an awesome job all weekend like they always do, and I think we've made a good impression, to be up at the front of the field in our third round."
Despite the adversity in Races 2 and 3, Alajajian still ended the round in sixth place, with 232 points. The teams second top ten round result in three starts and their best result since entering the series in July, it elevates Alajajian to 21st in the series standings.
"It's a little bit frustrating with how it turned out, but I'm pleased," said Protecnica Racing team owner Scott Anderson. "Chris drove well. He copped a hit early in that last race and had to come into the pits, which ruined our run.
"But after that, he put his head down and drove really well to pick up a lot of places even though he got turned around at one stage which undid some of his work.
"All in all, we've had another good weekend. It's still new territory for the team and Chris in terms of running this sort of car in this series. I think we've put in a good account of ourselves again and feel it's only a matter of time before it all comes together for us."
The next round of the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series will be held as part of the iconic Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 event, on October 5-8.