The two-car Ford team of WPS Racing finished the Sandown 500 looking more like rally cars than Supercars but still managed to place 16th and 21st in the ninth round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series in Victoria today. David Besnard, who ...
The two-car Ford team of WPS Racing finished the Sandown 500 looking more like rally cars than Supercars but still managed to place 16th and 21st in the ninth round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series in Victoria today.
David Besnard, who piloted car 23 with co-driver Charlie O'Brien, had a disastrous start to the race when he speared off the track on the first corner and had to be towed out of the mud.
The incident saw him drop a lap on the field and, while pushing the car trying to make up lost ground, he repeated the exercise just nine laps later to go to the tail of the field and four laps down on the leaders.
When he came in for his first driver change on lap 58 he had edged into 28th spot and was well out of contention for a top 10 finish.
O'Brien, who was seconded on Saturday morning to partner Besnard after scheduled partner Neil McFadyen fell ill, then completed his 54-lap session and, while he also had a few incidents, he had pushed the car into 21st position.
Besnard then saw out of the balance of the 160-lap endurance race and brought car 23, sponsored by team owner Craig Gore's Wright Patton Shakespeare Financial Group, home in 16th place.
"I was just trying too hard at the start," said Besnard.
"It wasn't an ideal situation with the driver combination change and I was trying to compensate for that.
"We had a good car but we never really got a chance to show that."
O'Brien said he was happy to hand the car back to Besnard after completing his stint behind the wheel.
"My knees and hips are pretty sore at the moment because I was pretty cramped in there," said O'Brien.
"I reckon I could have soldiered on for another 20 laps but any longer and I would have had to come in."
WPS Racing's Car 48, driven by John McIntyre and Alex Yoong, had a strong start to the race and was knocking on the door of the top 10 before it too had a number of journeys into the mud.
McIntyre, who started in the car and climbed to a race-high 11th place before coming in on lap 58 for the first driver change, said it was a great experience to compete in just his second V8 Supercar race.
"It was a fantastic experience but you tend to underestimate how tough it is and how hard they go in the endurance races," said McIntyre.
"I settled in pretty quickly but with all of the safety cars it was tough to get into a rhythm.
"I managed to keep the car straight and I held my ground against guys who have been driving in the series for the whole year so that was pleasing."
After the first driver change Yoong returned to the track in 22nd position and was very competitive in his first V8 Supercar race.
By lap 96 he had climbed into 13th position before running through an oil spill and sliding off the track.
"The car was going well and we were on the lead lap and then someone dropped some oil and I spun into the gravel and got stuck in the mud," said Yoong.
"I also lost both side mirrors so it was difficult to see any cars trying to dive up my inside.
"Anyway, it was good to get the first race under my belt and I think we showed we are competitive."
Yoong handed the car back to McIntyre for the final race home and they completed the race in 21st position.
"It probably wasn't indicative of how we went today," said Yoong.