SEASON BEST FOR WPS RACING AT BATHURST WPS Racing secured their best result for 2005 on the biggest stage of Australian V8 Supercars when David Besnard and Craig Baird guided the ...
SEASON BEST FOR WPS RACING AT BATHURST
WPS Racing secured their best result for 2005 on the biggest stage of Australian V8 Supercars when David Besnard and Craig Baird guided the #48 Wright Patton Shakespeare supported entry to eighth place during today's Super Cheap Auto 1000.
Not to be outdone Marcus Marshall and Alex Tagliani combined in the Team Australia car to master a gutsy 13th placing, with the combined performance of both camps leaving WPS Racing as the second best placed Ford outfit at Mount Panorama.
From a championship points perspective Baird and Besnard are now just a shade outside the top 20, however for both there were mixed emotions after an incident on lap 65 disrupted their momentum.
At the time the pairing had elevated themselves to an event high fifth in the 161-lap race, they then knuckled down showing great poise and control to recover for the season best performance.
"Approaching the final turn my rear brakes locked up and we went into the wall which was just shattering," said Besnard.
"But Bairdo fought back hard and got us within striking distance of the top 10 when I jumped back in the car for my second stint.
"Over the last 30 laps I just didn't want to let the team down so I stayed patient and kept our nose clean from there.
"This is my first ever finish at Mount Panorama and I think we showed enough out there to set ourselves for better times ahead during the remainder of the season."
With such a strong showing in an International class field, the Super Cheap Auto 1000 could well provide the impetus for a complete turnaround in fortunes for WPS Racing.
"Everything was right, absolutely flawless and all the guys deserve recognition for such a strong effort," said Baird.
"Luck's a fortune and we made just one mistake during six and a half hours of racing so that's not a bad effort.
"There were many others who faltered early and in hindsight we've managed to bring both cars back to the garage relatively clean and that was the overall team goal from the outset.
"This was a positive weekend and it's imperative for Bezzy and I to keep rolling on and collecting points over the remaining three rounds."
A monumental incident on lap 145 triggered by contact between Greg Murphy and Marcos Ambrose left those drivers as notable casualties and allowed the Besnard/Baird and Marshall/Tagliani combinations to shuffle higher up the leader board.
For the regular Team Australia champ car drivers this event has them primed for their next big outing during the Gold Coast's Lexmark Indy 300 carnival on October 20-23.
"For my first experience that was not a bad result and I'd love the chance to drive V8's again some time in the future," said Tagliani.
"The car was great and we were running in the low 2 minute 11 second mark for most laps which was very consistent. I thought we may have been good enough for top 10.
"Marcus did a great job in bringing us home and I'd like to thank the entire WPS team for the support they showed me this past month."
Marshall's motor racing career moves forward from here as he shapes up for his champ car debut on home soil on the streets of Surfers Paradise in a fortnight.
"We hung tough out there today and full credit to the crew who worked hard overnight to develop better balance in the car," said Marshall.
"This is just my second time I had the opportunity to compete in the great race and my first finish, so all-in-all this was a great result for both of us.
"I know Alex was very excited before coming to Bathurst and this place lived up to all expectations.
"But now there's the big job ahead at Indy where we'll have the weight of expectation as the first ever Australian owned champ car team competing on the Gold Coast."