STEWART McCOLL SCORES DOUBLE PODIUM AT DARWIN May 13, 2001 - 21 year old Newcastle driver Stewart McColl has driven to two third places at the first Holden Australian Drivers' Championship races to be held at Darwin's Hidden Valley circuit ...
STEWART McCOLL SCORES DOUBLE PODIUM AT DARWIN
May 13, 2001 - 21 year old Newcastle driver Stewart McColl has driven to two third places at the first Holden Australian Drivers' Championship races to be held at Darwin's Hidden Valley circuit today.
In race one McColl took a solid third place finish ahead of his 26 year old American team mate Emerson Newton-John after a battle which saw the leaders set sub-qualifying lap times throughout. Winner Simon Wills overcame the advances of series leader Rick Kelly throughout the 17 lap race held in hot and humid conditions, McColl displaying the major improvements made by the team overnight with a much better handling car for the race. Newton-John made his way up to fourth from 7th in a confident drive, overtaking rookie Con Toparis after a close fight and taking advantage of a late race spin by Christian Murchison to finish behind team mate McColl and gain more valuable Championship points.
The second race saw McColl get off to a strong start from 3rd on the grid to bunch in behind early leader Rick Kelly and second placed Simon Wills.Despite the 21 year old rookie's best efforts, he was unable to keep his NRC Racing Reynard 95D on the same pace as the leaders, but retained a solid third place - his second of the round and fourth podium finish out of three Championship rounds contested so far this season.
McColl's Darwin result means that the Newcastle driver has been able to manage two seconds, two thirds and two fourth places so far in his rookie Formula Holden season with NRC Racing.
The second race was a very different story for American driver Emerson Newton-John. After jumping the start, he lost several positions leading into the first turn, from then beginning a tremendous fightback through the field to 4th. The 26 year old rookie was forced to pit on the fifth lap for a stop-go penalty and shortly after re-joining the race he suffered a rare engine failure that forced his retirement.
Stewart McColl - "This weekend had been a major learning experience for me about Formula Holden. We have spent the whole weekend trying to catch the teams that were much faster than us and we managed two very solid third places - but if we could have solved some of our problems earlier, I am sure that we could have mixed it up with the leaders."
Emerson Newton-John - "I am relieved that we found the problem that we had with the car all weekend, but we still have a long way to go to catch the Birrana team. I was confident that we had a car capable of gaining a podium finish in race two after our solid 4th place in race one. The car felt even better in race two and I closed into the battle for third place before having to pit. A few laps after re-joining the race we suffered a rare engine failure and it was a great shame as I am sure that I could have competed for third place. I am really looking forward to Canberra now that we have made many gains with our chassis set up."
Team Owner Arthur Abrahams - "We started the weekend with a fairly lowly pace and throughout the weekend played catch up to the Birrana team and others. By the time the first race was over, we had closed the gap to everyone bar Wills and Kelly. I think a third place overall was as good as we could achieve this weekend and we are yet to determine what befell the engine in Emerson's car during his storming recovery in the second race."