DRAMATIC ROUND FOR POWERBUILT RACING TEAM
It was far from plain sailing for Luke Youlden and the Powerbuilt Falcon at Round 2 of the NZV8s Championship at Powerbuilt Tools International Raceway in Christchurch today. A series of problems had plagued the team from the beginning of practice on Friday and unfortunately they continued today.
Yesterday the Australian placed the Powerbuilt Falcon on the front row of the grid after only one flying lap in qualifying and then raced to 4th place in the opening race leaving the team well placed for both of today's races.
Youlden lined up 6th for this morning's 16 lap race. There was a lengthy delay prior to the start after the start lights failed and while that was being attended to the track began to dry forcing the entire field back to the pits to change to slick tyres.
When the race did get underway Youlden was quickly on the move. Despite the fact that the car was set to be at it's best later in the race he sliced past Paul Pedersen at the hairpin on the opening lap. A lap later he gained another position when Angus Fogg ran wide and lost several places. However the race was stopped at the end of the third lap when Kevin Williams and Tim Edgell hit the tyre wall at the end of the front straight. After another lengthy delay the race resumed and from 4th place at the single file restart Youlden became involved in a huge battle with John McIntyre, Angus Fogg and Kayne Scott.
The quartet changed places on several occasions with Youlden climbing to third at one stage and pulling off a memorable pass as the cars ran three wide through the infield section. Unfortunately in the last part of the race the distributor broke costing Youlden several places. When the chequered flag was waved prematurely after an incident between Ian Spurle and Andrew Anderson the Powerbuilt Falcon was 6th.
Heavy rain hit the circuit as the cars prepared for the final 20 lap reverse grid race. After his 4th place from Saturday and 6th earlier in the day, Luke was in 21st position on the grid. However a stunning opening lap saw him cross the line at the end of the first lap in 6th place.
The safety car was deployed as several cars were already off the circuit and while the cars were circulating behind it the windscreen of the Powerbuilt Falcon misted over. That caused Youlden to leave the track at the first corner after the restart sustaining damage to the front of the car. He regained the track well behind the field and began working his way back up the order. The safety car was sent back onto the circuit midway through the race allowing Youlden an opportunity to try and clear the screen but it was to no avail. The poor visibility led to another incident shortly after the next restart. He was then hit by another car sending the Powerbuilt Falcon to the pits with a puncture. The tyre was changed and the screen cleaned. However Youlden was caught out by the diabolical conditions and went off the circuit at turn 1. "I braked at exactly the same spot and just skated off. I think it had become just that much wetter, it caught a few out".
Earlier in proceedings a broken gear selector fork and a holed sump restricted the Australian to just 5 laps on Friday while he only managed one lap, albeit good enough for the front row, in qualifying. An engine change for the first race brought a 4th place finish.
Youlden was very disappointed with the weekend. "We had dramas all weekend and couldn't display our true potential. We were very fast here but couldn't show it".
The next round of the championship takes place at the Taupo Motorsport Centre over the weekend of 20/21 January.