LAST RACE PERFORMANCE SALVAGES TOUGH WEEKEND FOR ROLLINSON Kiwi driver Gene Rollinson endured a testing weekend at Winton Motor Raceway in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series last weekend, with a great drive from the back of the field in the third...
LAST RACE PERFORMANCE SALVAGES TOUGH WEEKEND FOR ROLLINSON
Kiwi driver Gene Rollinson endured a testing weekend at Winton Motor Raceway in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series last weekend, with a great drive from the back of the field in the third race the only on-track highlight.
Starting towards the rear of the field for the final race in the Chantilly's Motor Lodge Lake Taupo NZ-liveried Falcon, Rollinson was sandwiched across the grass at turn one on the first lap, effectively coming out in 29th and last place. From there he put in a storming drive to make up 16 positions in the 14-lap race to finish 13th.
'It definitely wasn't easy!' the 23-year-old said after the race. 'No one gives an inch in this series, so you have to work really hard for every position. We had a pretty strong racecar, so if things had gone our way earlier in the weekend I think we would've definitely bettered my ninth overall on debut last year.'
Rollinson and the Race Image Motorsports team found the going tough leading up to that final race. 'We had a completely new front-end in the car for this round,' Rollinson explained. 'With both Friday practice sessions run in the wet we were tweaking it here and there to get the feel of it, and we were reasonably happy with 12th fastest by Friday afternoon. When qualifying rolled around it was bone-dry and those setups went out the window!' Learning the new front-end, coupled by the fact he hasn't a lot of experience on green tyres and how to get the most out of them, Rollinson qualified in 20th position.
A great start in Race One saw Rollinson make up three positions off the start line, only to lose them again when he was shuffled onto the grass at turn one. Getting stuck behind slower cars on a circuit which is notoriously hard to pass on meant he payed the price for starting towards the back of the field, but he fought his way through to finish 15th.
After being hit in the side by a fellow competitor and suffering a couple of bent panels on the first lap of Race Two, the race didn't end happily for the Race Image Motorsports Falcon as Rollinson was forced off the damp track by another competitor on lap six while in 11th place, ending up bogged in the wet grass unable to rejoin the circuit. His Race Three result after that saw the weekend eventually end on a high note.
'We came to Winton with high hopes of a good result, we had the ingredients to do so, but as it turned out for one reason or another that didn't happen,' Rollinson commented afterwards. 'But I'm happy with the progress we made over the weekend, especially in that last race. With the limited miles I've had in a V8 Supercar I know I have a few things to work on to squeeze those last few tenths out of the car as a driver. But I'm with a great team and engineer, and we're not too far away. The trick now is to find the funding to continue!'
Rollinson now goes on the sponsorship hunt in the two months before the next round at Bathurst on the 9th-12th October, as he looks to secure the support necessary to compete in the final two rounds of the series at Bathurst and Sydney's Oran Park Raceway.