RAIN RUINS OPENING SANDOWN RACE

The opening V8 Supercar race at Sandown International Raceway was thrown into disarray this afternoon after steady rain made track conditions extremely difficult for drivers and conducive to a Safety Car interrupted race.

Shane van Gisbergen, John McIntyre, #9 SP Tools Racing
Shane van Gisbergen, John McIntyre, #9 SP Tools Racing

Photo by: Chris Von Wieldt

After a promising qualifying performance earlier in the day, Stone Brothers Racing (SBR) suffered at the hands of the inclement weather – with Shane van Gisbergen, Tim Slade and Alex Davison finishing the 37-lap race in fifth, 15th and 16th places respectively.

Four Safety Car periods prevented SBR’s drivers from finding any real rhythm in the race, with the main obstacle faced being a lack of clear visibility from the copious amounts of water being dispersed by the field.

Van Gisbergen - who normally dominates in the wet - ran with the leaders for most of the race, running as high as third before being caught out in the late stages by the tricky conditions. With the race shortened due to the number of laps consumed by the Safety Car periods, van Gisbergen eventually crossed the line in fifth place which sees him reclaim third place on the Championship points table.

Tim Slade in the #47 Lucky 7 Racing Falcon was the hardest done by in today’s race. After a strong qualifying session enabled him to start the race in fifth place, Slade dropped back to 21st in the opening stint after struggling to get power down in the slippery conditions. He fought back in the closing stages to finish in 15th place.

In a reversal of fortunes for Alex Davison, the IRWIN Racing pilot found the speed he was lacking in qualifying, making up 12 positions before race’s end.

The SBR Falcons will return to the track tomorrow morning at 11.15am for qualifying, followed by race two (65 laps/200km) at 3.35pm.

I’m a bit puzzled at the moment.

Tim Slade

Shane van Gisbergen – Driver, SP Tools Racing Car #9

“That was tough out there – I could hardly see a thing. The car was much better in the second stint but I made a few mistakes – it was just so slippery out there. Hopefully the conditions improve tomorrow.”

Tim Slade – Driver, Lucky 7 Racing Car #47

“I’m a bit puzzled at the moment. We’ve had good speed all weekend but something has gone amiss between qualifying and the race because it didn’t feel like the same car. It was really treacherous out there and I had an excursion off the track which blocked up the air intake causing me to make an unscheduled stop to clear it out. The main thing is I finished above most of the blokes I’m battling in the Championship so I’m back in 11th place.”

Alex Davison – Driver, IRWIN Racing Car #4

“Immediately the car felt better and we were much more competitive in that race. Initially our pace was good but we kept the same set of tyres on for the duration of the race so by the end we really didn’t have much left to fight with. I got punted a few times which was pretty frustrating but I’m happy knowing that if it’s wet again tomorrow we’ll have a much better package for the conditions.”