PEDERSEN TOPS OFF STRONG CALTEX WEEKEND WITH WIN Caltex Havoline Ford Falcon driver topped off a strong weekend for the Caltex Racing Parker ENZED NZ V8s Championship team with a second feature race win in as many rounds at Feilding's...
PEDERSEN TOPS OFF STRONG CALTEX WEEKEND WITH WIN
Caltex Havoline Ford Falcon driver topped off a strong weekend for the Caltex Racing Parker ENZED NZ V8s Championship team with a second feature race win in as many rounds at Feilding's Manfeild Autocourse today.
In what was a virtual repeat of the Caltex Havoline driver's performance at the fourth round of the Parker ENZED series at Timaru last month Pedersen turned a strong start from third spot on the reverse top eight rolling start feature race grid into a lead he was never to lose after passing polesitter Dale Lambert on the first lap then quickly establishing a four-second buffer on fastest qualifier and the winner of the first and second race, John McIntyre
It was a fitting finish for Pedersen and his hard-working Caltex Havoline crew, and one which - with a fourth place finish in the first race and a hard-won fifth in the second - saw him finish second overall for the weekend behind McIntyre but in front of defending Parker ENZED series champion Andy Booth.
Reflecting on his weekend Pedersen said;
"We struggled a bit in testing this weekend to get a set up that would work in these conditions and we have been low on tyres which is a major thing in this class. What tends to happen though is that by working away at it over the weekend we get the car better and better. It was pretty good yesterday when we finished fourth, it went away in the heat in the first race today but the boys kept working at it and the set up we went with for the feature race was spot on. The car was fast and it was easier on the rear tyres so when I got past Dale (Lambert) and put the gap on Johnny I just concentrated on keeping the times consistent."
Teammate, and the International Motorsport team's race engineer Angus Fogg, had a slightly better start to his weekend than teammate Pedersen, setting the third fastest lap time in qualifying then finishing the first and second races in third place, but any hopes of a similar place in the reverse top-ten grid final race (which he started from P7 on the grid) were dashed on the final corner when his left rear tyre blew, sending the Caltex Star Mart Falcon lurching sideways and letting Clark Proctor and Booth to get past.
Early on Fogg looked set to follow Pedersen and McIntyre home for a Ford 1-2-3, but he slowly slipped back into Booth's clutches after the midway point and spent the rest of the race trying to conserve his past-their-best rear tyres.
"The tyres started going away at about the lap 10 mark and they just got worse and worse," said Fogg." Five laps from the end they got so bad I was having to nurse the car through the corners then get back on the gas once I had straightened it up then on the last lap the left rear one obviously decided it had had enough."
As a weekend the Manfeild one certainly provided Parker ENZED NZ V8s Championship fans with some entertainment with the Holdens of championship leader Kayne Scott and Andy Booth back on a par with the Ford Falcons and three close and exciting races - albeit the second one for all the wrong reasons.
Caltex Racing Ford Falcon drivers Fogg and Pedersen were in the thick of the action, Fogg starting and eventually finishing third, Pedersen starting fourth but crossing the line fifth.
That was only half the story however as a fire in one of the new pit bays at the Feilding circuit saw the circuit's Fire Engine diverted from track duty, prompting an immediate stop to the race on the 11th lap.
Before that the safety car had twice been deployed to slow the field down, the first time to allow safety crews to retrieve Jason Liefting's team Kiwi Commodore, from the tyre barrier at the hairpin, the second to move Darryn Henderson's beached Holden Commodore from the gravel trap on the exit of Turn 1.
A good start and savvy line into and out of the first turn saw Caltex Havoline man Pedersen emerge in second place behind pole sitter and race one winner John McIntyre but in front of teammate Fogg and top Holden runner Andy Booth as the field sorted itself on the first lap.
Unfortunately Fogg lost two places on the first re-start and the order until the race was red-flagged was McIntyre, Pedersen, Booth, Manuell, Fogg and Australian Dean Canto.
After a break of at least 40 minutes - with the cars lined up on the grid - the results of the first 12 laps were annulled and the final six laps (of the original 18) were used to find a result.
The two Caltex cars retained their positions after the rolling start but Pedersen finally succumbed to the race-long pressure he had been receiving from defending Parker ENZED champion Booth on the third lap.
Before that, and in the latter part of the aborted first 12 laps Booth had tried everything he knew to get past Pedersen consistently getting a better drive off the first corner and the long, banked corner (Higgins) onto the back straight.
The other Holden driver in the top four, former category champion Paul Manuell, appeared comfortable behind Pedersen and in front of Fogg until the second to last lap when Fogg pressured him into a mistake.
At that stage Pedersen's tyres were well past their best and he was slipping back into Manuell's clutches. But instead of Manuell gaining a place, he ended up losing two, first to Fogg then momentarily to Pedersen who had got past both Manuell and Fogg.
Fogg then dived back underneath Pedersen to reclaim third place, with Manuell following him through as Pedersen struggled to find traction onto the back straight.
That allowed championship points leader Kayne Scott (Holden Commodore) to catch and on the last lap also briefly pass Pedersen for fifth, but Pedersen grimly held the inside line through the sweeper onto the start finish race and reclaimed fifth place - albeit by less than a nosecone!
In Saturday's 10 lap race Fogg started and finished third and Pedersen worked his way up to fourth place in the 10 lap race, crossing the finishing line just 0.877 of a second behind his teammate.
From a series perspective the results kept Caltex Star Mart Falcon driver Fogg in third place overall with 760 points with Caltex Havoline Falcon driver Paul Pedersen moving up two places from eighth to sixth place with 610 points.
The Parker ENZED NZ V8s championship now moves to the new, extended Taupo Motor Racing Circuit over the March 18/19 weekend for the penultimate round of the 2005/06 series.