ADELAIDE'S HIGH SPEED STREET FIGHT PRODUCES A WIN FOR MCFADYEN AND A NEW LAP RECORD Two former Gold Star champions went wheel-to-wheel in a thrilling return of wings and slicks open-wheel cars to the Clipsal 500 Adelaide -- and it was a lap ...
ADELAIDE'S HIGH SPEED STREET FIGHT PRODUCES A WIN FOR MCFADYEN AND A NEW LAP RECORD
Two former Gold Star champions went wheel-to-wheel in a thrilling return of wings and slicks open-wheel cars to the Clipsal 500 Adelaide -- and it was a lap record breaking performance to boot.
Polesitter Neil McFadyen (Piccola Scuderia Corse) held off Ben Clucas (Opes Prime Team BRM) to win today's shortened nine-lap race whilst Kiwi Earl Bamber finished third but demolished the five-year old outright lap record in the process.
Whilst McFadyen and Clucas were dicing for the race lead Bamber set the new benchmark on the 5th lap, leaving the new benchmark at 1m18.6011s. Four drivers, including the first and second placed finishers, lapped well underneath the existing mark.
From pole, McFadyen made the best start and led the field to turn one, whilst Clucas fired forward from the second row of the grid and was able to pass both teammates Bamber and Nathan Caratti on the run to the infamous first chicane.
Bamber slipped to fourth, but was quickly able to disperse Caratti and lift himself onto the podium -- a position he would hold for the remainder of the race.
The two leaders quickly drove away from the field at lap-record pace whilst Bamber held off his teammate and Leanne Tander in a close battle for third.
A safety car was called to recover a stranded car on lap six, bunching up the field for a tense restart following conformation that only two laps would remain in the race.
McFadyen continued to lead on the restart however an aggressive Bamber found the notorious turn one chicane kerb as the field filed through -- launching his car several feet into the air in dramatic fashion -- though he was able to hold off those behind him to get to the finish in one piece.
Clucas closed on the final lap and attacked the leader into the hairpin -- trying to execute a switchback move -- but McFadyen held on to record a stunning victory by just three-tenths of a second.
Bamber finished third ahead of teammates Winslow and Nathan Caratti, whilst Leanne Tander made up one position through the race to finish sixth. Mat Sofi (Transwest Racing Dallara F307 Mercedes Benz) was seventh and Stuart Kostera eighth for Scud Racing.
The win rocketed McFadyen to the top of the championship standings ahead of tomorrow's second race.
"I think it was important to get a good start, nail a couple of quick laps and get into a good rhythm," A justifiably delighted winner enthused.
"From there it's going to be a nice battle of wits. The safety car made it interesting but we held on and I can't wait for the next race -- I'm having a ball down here in Adelaide.
"Like to thank the fantastic team at Piccola Scuderia the guys have done a fantastic job and I'm so proud to be able to do a good job for them in return - It's down to hard work and preparation, and burning desire to win from me and the team -- from here we can keep building and get stronger." He said.
Second for Ben Clucas was a solid return to the championship series he won in 2006.
"I didn't make that good a start, but I was able jump both Nathan and Earl down the inside and get past (on the start)," he said.
"Neil got a bit of a gap there but we seemed to have good pace And I was able to get close to him but just wasn't able to pull a move.
"I was quite happy with the pace I've had in the race because we've been struggling before this one. The walls are pretty close here so I wanted to play it a bit safe and make sure I got home in second place, but it was a good race."
Bamber's aerobatics -- and lap record pace -- showed that the young Kiwi continues to build his impressive early-season form.
"I didn't get the best of starts but I was able to get past Nathan and then went out after Neil and Ben -- I broke the lap record so we know the car is competitive," he said, confidently.
"I was trying to push as hard as I could to make up time -- and I just locked a brake and went straight on at the chicane and hit the kerb. It went up so high I could tell it was going to hurt, and it was a pretty rough landing, quite jarring. But in the end I'm happy with a podium finish -- I probably could've got past Ben but it would have been difficult without causing a massive accident so I was safe and stayed in third."
Lee Farrell led lights-to flag to win the Opes Prime National Class (see separate story) whilst Andrew Mill won the Trophy Class with a solid performance.
Race two will be held tomorrow (Sunday, February 24th) at 10:00am.
Race 1 Results
1. Neil McFadyen (Piccola Scuderia Corse)
2. Ben Clucas (Opes Prime Team BRM)
3. Earl Bamber (Opes Prime Team BRM)
4. Nathan Caratti (Opes Prime Team BRM)
5. James Winslow (Opes Prime Team BRM)
Championship points -- after Race 1, Round 2
1. Neil McFadyen 31
2. Nathan Caratti 29
3. James Winslow 25
4. Earl Bamber 23
5. Leanne Tander 19