BATHURST, February 25, 2001 -winning team owner Ross Stone believes new V8 Supercar driver Michael Simpson has what it takes to win this year's Konica V8 Supercar Series after an impressive debut at Wakefield Park near Goulburn, NSW today. Stone,...
BATHURST, February 25, 2001 -winning team owner Ross Stone believes new V8 Supercar driver Michael Simpson has what it takes to win this year's Konica V8 Supercar Series after an impressive debut at Wakefield Park near Goulburn, NSW today. Stone, who sold Simpson his EL Falcon for this year's series, was on hand to guide the young Gold Coaster through his first V8 Supercar meeting. Simpson finished fourth overall in his four year-old EL Falcon, but could have easily finished on the podium if he had not been squeezed off the track while challenging for fourth position in race two.
"I certainly thought he had what it takes and today he provided me right," said Stone, who will campaign Falcons for David Besnard and Marcus Ambrose in this year's Shell Championship Series.
"He seems to have plenty of time when he is in the car and that is always a good sign. He produced the quickest time in the morning warm-up with a lap quicker than anyone else has ever produced at the circuit. I think Michael's future looks bright and he can certainly challenge for the championship."
Simpson was fifth in yesterday's qualifying and was the quickest in today morning's official race warm-up with a lap of 1:00.1320. He finished second in race one to Formula Holden champion Simon Wills and then started ninth in race two because of a "reverse grid" for the top 10 cars.
He quickly made up ground and was pushing to gain fourth place from David Parsons when he suddenly ran out of room and finished up in the sand trap - he rejoined the field to finish 16th.
Simpson produced the drive of the day in heat three to race from 16th to third. "I could not be happier with the end result," said Simpson. "This was the first V8 Supercar race for the entire team and to finish just four points away from a podium spot was great. I could have been second in the championship if I had not finished in the sand trap in the second race, but that's the way things go. I think we certainly proved we are not here to make up the numbers."
"I have to thank Ross Stone for all his assistance this weekend. His knowledge certainly pointed us in the right direction and we have escaped with nothing more than a scratch on the rear bumper."
Simpson is hoping today's results will help in his quest to find a naming-rights sponsor for the remainder of the season. Simpson got to the first round thanks to the support of Queensland Vehicle Warranty Network, MA Howard Constructions and Nerang Diffs.
One of his major supporters has also been the Bruce Lynton Group, which has supplied the team with a workshop and team transporter. The group is also Simpson's employer and allowances have been made so he can compete for the entire season.
"I think today we provided some reward for the people who have gotten behind us, but we desperately need to get a naming-rights sponsor on-board," said Simpson.
The next round of the Konica V8 Supercar Series will be held at Oran Park in Sydney on March 17-18.
RESULTS - Round 1, Konica V8 Supercar Series - Sunday, February 25, 2001
1: Simon Wills (Holden VT); 2: Michael Simpson (Ford EL); 3: Owen Kelly (Holden VS); 4: Dale Brede (Holden VT); 5: David Parsons (Holden VT). Race 2 1: Paul Dumbrell (Holden VT); 2: Leanne Ferrier (Holden VT); 3: David Parsons (Holden VT); 4: Mal Rose (Holden VS); 5: Craig Harris (Ford AU); 16: Michael Simpson (Ford EL) Race 3 1: Simon Wills (Holden VT); 2: Leanne Ferrier (Holden VT); 3: Michael Simpson (Falcon EL); 4: Mal Rose (Holden VS); 5: Terry Whyhoon (Holden VS)
Championship points (After Round 1 of 6):
1: Simon Wills 234; 2: Leanne Ferrier 210; 3: Paul Dumbrell 190; 4: Michael Simpson 186; 5: David Parsons 184; 6: Mal Rose 180; 7: Dale Brede 148; 8: Craig Harris 148; 9: Terry Wyhoon 134; 10: Ric Shaw 126