Canberra: Paragon Motorsports qualifying report

Round 5 - V8 Supercar Championship Series, Canberra, ACT Petria Thomas swaps swim suit for race suit to ride in Canberra's (very) fast lane. Australian Commonwealth and Olympic Games team member Petria Thomas swapped a swimming suit for a...

Round 5 - V8 Supercar Championship Series, Canberra, ACT

Petria Thomas swaps swim suit for race suit to ride in Canberra's (very) fast lane.

Australian Commonwealth and Olympic Games team member Petria Thomas swapped a swimming suit for a race suit when she took a high-speed ride with V.I.P. Pet Foods Racing driver Cameron McLean around Canberra's temporary street circuit today.

"That was awesome. I'm surprised how hard Cameron has to work when he is driving; I don't know how he does it for 50 laps," Thomas said after the ride in McLean's Ford Falcon XR8, one of 34 starters in this weekend's fifth round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.

Thomas, an Olympic silver and bronze medal butterfly swimmer, is training hard for next month's Commonwealth Games in Manchester, but was allowed to show up late at the Australian Institute of Sport pool today in order to satisfy her long-held ambition to ride in a V8 Supercar.

"My coach is pretty strict about being on time for training but today he said it wouldn't matter if I was a few minutes late.

"I was a bit nervous before I went out with Cameron, but the speed wasn't frightening at all. It's given me a good appreciation of what another sports person has to do and now I've been in a V8 once I definitely want to do it again."

Thomas was perhaps lucky to find the Falcon waiting in pit lane after McLean tagged the tyre wall at the 'bus-stop' corner behind old Parliament House, early in the second practice session.

"The Canberra walls rarely give you second chances, but we just did a little damage to the right-front suspension and were able to start qualifying later," McLean said.

However, the loss of track time meant the Paragon Motorsport team was unable to fine-tune the suspension for qualifying and McLean finished the session with 27th grid spot for tomorrow's 25-lap first race. He had completed the first practice session in an encouraging 20th spot.

QUALIFYING RESULTS: McLean 27th (1:45.61). 1 Bright (Commodore) 1:43.76, 2 Ambrose (Falcon), 3 Skaife (Commodore).

TEAM SPONSORS: In addition to V.I.P. Pet Foods, the Paragon Motorsport Ford Falcon V8 Supercar is sponsored by Cox Lawn Care Products, All Power Steering, Eibach Springs, Freightliner Trucks, PPG Paints, Revolution Racegear, Screen Offset Printing, Snap-on Tools, Spandex, Street Smart Designs and Wurth.

CAMERON'S 2001 STORY: Qualifying - McLean 13th, 1:43.27. Top 15 Qualifying - McLean 14th, 1:48.02 (Pole - Johnson, 1:43.87). Race 1 - McLean DNF, suspension (Johnson 1st). Race 2 - McLean DNF, crash (Richards 1st). Race 3 - McLean DNS (Skaife 1st).

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after Round 4): 62 points McLean (33rd overall); 1044 Skaife, 577 Murphy, 508 Ambrose.

TIMETABLE: Saturday - 9.55 Warm-up (15 min.), 11.10 Top 15 Qualifying (45 min.), 2.55 Race 1 (25 laps / 97.5 km, tyres). Sunday - 9.10 Warm-up (15 min.), 11.00 Race 2 (25 laps / 97.5 km, reverse grid, tyres), 2.10 Race 3 (50 laps / 195 km, fuel & tyres). TV - Network Ten, Saturday 2.00 - 5.00, Sunday 1.30 - 5.00.

-pm-

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Series V8SUPERCARS