PROTECNICA RACING AND CHRIS ALAJAJIAN BOUND FOR BATHURST Fresh from recording their best result since entering the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series in July, Sydneysiders Protecnica Racing and Chris Alajajian head to the spiritual home of Australian ...
PROTECNICA RACING AND CHRIS ALAJAJIAN BOUND FOR BATHURST
Fresh from recording their best result since entering the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series in July, Sydneysiders Protecnica Racing and Chris Alajajian head to the spiritual home of Australian motorsport this week, Mount Panorama Bathurst, for the penultimate round of the 2006 series.
After finishing fourth in Race 1 at Mallala Motorsport Park last month, Alajajian endured a frustrating run in Races 2 and 3, but fought on to pick up sixth place for the round.
From just three rounds in the series, it was Alajajian's second Top 10 round result in succession aboard the Jack Hillermans Smash / Elf Lubricants Commodore. Having also qualified in the Top 10 in his last two starts, Alajajian is buoyed by the strong recent pace, and has set himself the goal of scoring a podium finish before the season is out.
"Within three race meetings, we've shown a lot of potential as a team and I think we've adapted to it well," the 19 year-old said. "We're all pleased with how quickly we have come to grips with it, to be as competitive as we are at this stage is satisfying.
"One goal I've set myself for these last two rounds is a podium finish. I know the team can provide a car that can do it, but it all comes down to me now. I think it's the next step for us, and I know it's definitely achievable.
"We were a bit unlucky in the third race in Mallala. We would've finished a bit higher up in the field, but due to the rear diffuser damage, we had to come into the pits, rip it off, and then come back from pretty much dead last to 11th.
"We certainly know that the speed is there, it's just a matter of putting it all together."
While pleased with the progress both he and the team have made, Alajajian isn't underestimating the weekend ahead at the famed Mount Panorama circuit. He has raced on the 6.213km layout once previously, winning his class in the 2003 Bathurst 2 Hour Showroom Showdown for production-based cars in a BMW 323i to become the youngest class winner in a race at Bathurst.
"I've got awesome memories of that race," said 'The Chris'. "On the last lap I actually ran out of fuel and rolled to the finish line from the top. I didn't even make it into the scrutineering bay, the car stopped on the finish line, so it was close. It's one of the highlights of my career.
"Bathurst is a circuit you have to respect. You get quicker there with the more laps you do, so I will be a little bit behind the eight-ball compared to drivers who have raced a V8 Supercar there before and those who are also doing the 1000.
"But I'm confident that if we work hard, improve our pace during the weekend and stick at it, we can get a solid result."
Like Alajajian, Protecnica Racing team owner Scott Anderson is pleased with the team's entry to the series, and excited about the challenge of the weekend ahead. The team have tasted success at Bathurst with Subaru WRX's - winning the 2003 Showroom Showdown outright, and finishing on the class podium in each Bathurst 24 Hour.
"We've got a good record at Bathurst from our Production Car days, but this is a totally different ballgame," said Anderson.
"Coming into this series, we didn't have any expectations aside from learning as much as we could. I'm pleased with how we have taken to it so far; we have learnt a lot in a short period of time and having the pace to mix it with the established teams and drivers has been a nice bonus.
"This weekend will be about building our pace up as we go, and making sure we're there at the end of each race. A lot tends to happen in these races at Bathurst, so we'll go there, try and stay out of trouble and see what we end up with."
Fujitsu Series action at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 kicks off on Thursday, with a pair of practice sessions. Friday features qualifying and the opening 14 lap race at 12:40pm. Race 2, also 14 laps, will be contested from 1:45pm on Saturday afternoon. Both races will be shown as part of Network 10's event coverage.