OPENING RACE FRUSTRATION FOR ALAJAJIAN AFTER STRONG QUALIFYING PERFORMANCE
Race 1 in the final round of the 2006 Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series at Phillip Island Raceway held plenty of promise for Protecnica Racing and Chris Alajajian following a strong showing in qualifying, yet ultimately ended in frustration.
Turn 1, Lap 1 contact between other cars ahead saw Alajajian take the Jack Hillermans Smash / Elf Lubricants Commodore off-road in evasive action. By the time he got back on track, the 20-year old was at the tail of the 35-car field.
He made light work of cars over the ensuing laps, passing numerous drivers on each tour to sit in 20th place at the start of Lap 6. That would be the extent of the progress, though; contact with another driver led to retirement from the 19-lap encounter.
"Coming into Turn 1, there some contact between [Jack] Perkins, [Grant] Denyer and Matthew White, and I had to go left off the track to avoid the incident," explained Alajajian.
"I was pretty much dead last when I got back on the track, but I made up a few positions and then on the run to the hairpin on Lap 6 one of the AU Falcon drivers closed the door on me in what was a pretty defensive line so early in the race.
"When he came over and blocked me, my nose was already in there and his right rear hit my left front which broke the wheel.
"I came into the pits to change the tyre, and when I went back out there the steering was off centre and the car was hard to keep on the road, so we parked it."
It came on the back of an impressive performance by the Sydneysiders in Qualifying. Continuing his improvement from Friday's practice sessions, Alajajian secured seventh place on the grid with a laptime of 1:35.3586. Since joining the series in July, it was the team and Alajajian's third Top 10 qualifying result in five rounds.
"Friday was pretty productive and we ended the day with a reasonable setup," said Alajajian. "We improved that some more overnight, put new tyres on it and got a good result with seventh place.
"We've slowly progressed throughout the weekend and there was still some time in the car with further improvements to be made, which made us pretty positive about Race 1 but it didn't work out."
The 2006 Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series concludes tomorrow at Phillip Island Raceway, with the 19-lap Race 2.
"Obviously we're hoping for a better run tomorrow," said Alajajian. "We'll have a lot of work to do if we are going to have a reasonable result, but it's our last race for the season so I'd love to be able to get a good result for the team after all of their efforts and time during the year."