POSITIVE RUN AT BATHUST ENDS IN DISAPPOINTMENT FOR IRWIN/SP TOOLS RACING AT THE 'GREAT RACE' IRWIN/SP Tools Racing duo of Alex Davison and Shane van Gisbergen have led the Supercheap Bathurst 1000 on four separate occasions, but an ...
POSITIVE RUN AT BATHUST ENDS IN DISAPPOINTMENT FOR IRWIN/SP TOOLS RACING AT THE 'GREAT RACE'
IRWIN/SP Tools Racing duo of Alex Davison and Shane van Gisbergen have led the Supercheap Bathurst 1000 on four separate occasions, but an overheating engine issue slipped them back to 13th at the end of the 161-laps.
The 'Great Race' lived up to its reputation with two separate rain periods, as well as a total of eight safety car periods over the 1000 kilometres of racing.
Starting from sixth on the grid, IRWIN Racing's Alex Davison kept his head in the tricky wet conditions before switching to dry weather tyres on lap #6. He moved into the lead just prior to his first full stop on lap #32 for fuel and tyres, and in the process handed over to van Gisbergen for the next period of the race.
With the #9 IRWIN/SP Tools Falcon not only showing great pace, but exceptional fuel economy, van Gisbergen again moved to the lead prior to the next round of stops with Davison climbing back aboard on lap #57. A safety car period shortly after for debris compressed the field and the IRWIN/SP Tool Ford stayed on-track with Craig Lowndes.
Following another safety car just six laps later, Davison made a bold move to take the lead from Lowndes. However, the skies once again opened and Davison came together with James Courtney. With all teams diving to the pits, Davison handed over to van Gisbergen on wet weather tyres on lap #81. Van Gisbergen maintained a top-five position before once again moving into the lead after a safety car period on lap #98.
All appeared to be working in the #9 IRWIN/SP Tools Racing Ford's favour as van Gisbergen built a handy lead before a crucial pit stop on lap #108. With engine temperature warnings, the team decided to shut-off the car during a pit stop that included fuel, tyres, brake pads and discs, as well as putting Davison back in the car. However, the car struggled to re-fire and some 20 seconds were lost to the competition.
When Davison returned to the track the fresh brakes did not provide the desired extra performance and the IRWIN/SP Tools Ford dropped outside the top-10. The engine temperature issues then continued to plague the team and a pit stop on lap #130 was required to clear the front of the radiator and add water.
Van Gisberegn took the wheel for the final 31 laps under strict instruction to stay in clear air and monitor temperatures through to the chequered flag.
The #4 IRWIN/SP Tools Racing entry of Daniel Gaunt and John McIntyre also had a day of highs and lows. After slipping a lap down to the leaders on lap #60, the Kiwi pair drove an exceptional next period of the race. Not only did they regain the lead lap, but they placed as high as fifth on lap #120. With fuel economy critical to a top-10 result, Gaunt was called to the pits with the #4 IRWIN/SP Tools Ford on empty on lap #133. However, he miss-judged the pit entry and was forced to go around for another full lap. He ran out of fuel on pit lane and the crew had to push him into the pit area. The entire process cost a lap and any chance of a top-10 finish.
At the end Gaunt and McIntyre finished 19th.
What Alex Davison had to say:
"Our IRWIN/SP Tools Racing Ford was great for the first two-thirds of the race, but when it mattered we didn't have the car to take it to them. It was actually lucky that the car even finished as we had overheating issues over the final 60 laps. Plus when I had the coming together with James Courtney it did damage the rear hub and that gradually leaked oil on the rear brakes and tyres. So it was very difficult for both Shane and I over the last segment of the race. There certainly have been plenty of positives to take out of the weekend. Our speed is certainly improving and every time we go out we get quicker. The fact is that we had one of the fastest cars here this weekend, but there were things that didn't work in our favour. I'm looking forward to getting back into the #4 IRWIN Racing Ford as we want to show that speed at the SuperGP weekend on the Gold Coast."
What Daniel Gaunt had to say:
"A great strategy by our #4 IRWIN/SP Tools Racing the team today to get us well inside the top-10 and we were on-course for a result around that mark. You know we brought the home in one piece, which in today's conditions was a priority. I'm disappointed with myself for overshoot the pit entry and then running out of fuel; as we all deserved a great result this afternoon. I have to say that for me racing here with the IRWIN/SP Tools team has been a fantastic experience and I certainly would have no hesitation coming back if I was invited.
What Ross Stone had to say:
"This is a hard place. We were in the hunt until lap #100 with the #9 IRWIN/SP Tools Racing Ford and it really turned on its head from there. We are disappointed with the final result as were really in the hunt. It's important that we take the speed we had from this weekend and apply that over the next few races. Alex and Shane as well as John and Daniel worked very well together and it will help us go forward."