Clipsal: Tasman Motorsport Saturday report

Jones marches forward as engine problem eliminates Richards from Clipsal opener Andrew Jones flew the flag for Tasman Motorsport in today's opening leg of the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, taking his Sleepyhead Commodore to a top 15 finish after ...

Jones marches forward as engine problem eliminates Richards from Clipsal opener

Andrew Jones flew the flag for Tasman Motorsport in today's opening leg of the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, taking his Sleepyhead Commodore to a top 15 finish after qualifying in a lowly 24th.

His team-mate Jason Richards had been the team's early hope and the Kiwi ace made a great start to the 250-kilometre race, slotting into third spot in the opening laps behind HRT duo Todd Kelly and Mark Skaife.

But an engine problem, which later was diagnosed as a broken valve spring, put paid to his chances and forced him to pit and retire on lap six.

While Richards sat in the pits and the Tasman team set about changing his Commodore's engine, Jones plugged away, moving to 21st by lap 33, but then an appearance by the Safety Car dented his forward progress.

Leader Craig Lowndes pitted, leaving the Safety Car to pick up Jones' car and, under the rules, not wave it through to the back of the Safety Car queue. It left Jones all but a lap down on the restart and he was forced to drive through to the end to end up in 15th spot.

Nevertheless, Jones picked up nine positions and has placed himself closer toward the front for tomorrow's race.

Race 2, also over a 78 lap distance, will start at 2pm Adelaide time.

QUOTEBOOK

Andrew Jones (#23 Sleepyhead/Tasman Motorsport Holden Commodore VZ) Started 24th, Finished 15th, Fastest Lap - 1m24.9032s

"It was a busy race, that's for sure. On the opening lap I was able to make up a few spots and settle into a good pace. Then we legitimately passed a few cars and that, coupled with some problems for others, put us up the order.

"Later on the Safety Car came out and actually picked me up as the leader, which shocked me! Lowndes, who was the leader, had pitted, so we were picked up and not waved through.

"That was a shame, because we'd done both compulsory pit stops. But it put us a lap down and all we could do was to keep fighting to the chequered flag."

Jason Richards (#3 Sleepyhead/Tasman Motorsport Holden Commodore VZ) Started 4th, Did Not Finish, Fastest Lap - 1m24.6634s

"It's pretty gut wrenching to be in such a good position but that's life. It's just more of a shame because we were right up the front with a car that was genuinely fast. The engine program began after a couple of laps and gradually got worse and worse and started to sound pretty rough.

"It had broken a valve spring and was running on seven cylinders. It actually was still quite quick through the tighter sections but down the straights everyone was blowing us away. You could keep driving but it would have eventually blown up the engine and that doesn't help anyone, let alone the mechanics that have to work on fixing it all overnight."

-tm-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Andrew Jones , Mark Skaife , Craig Lowndes , Jason Richards , Todd Kelly