Day of promise ends with retirement for ...
Day of promise ends with retirement for #3
A promising start has ended in retirement from the Bathurst 1000 for Tasman Motorsport's Jason Richards and Andrew Jones.
The duo were eliminated from the V8 Supercar endurance classic when their Firepower Commodore launched into the wall at Reid Park in the race's late stages after Richards had earlier gone on a wild ride through the high-speed Chase.
A steering problem with the left front of the #3 car sent Richards flying, literally, across the apex of the Chase, ending up in the sand trap and needing to be towed back out after running off the track at 300km/h.
The day had started strongly, with Richards launching away from his fourth spot on the grid to be second and challenging Jason Bright in the early stages.
Jones took over and completed the second stint but struggled to match the Kiwi's pace as he pushed on with what he described as a nervous handling Commodore.
A fuel pressure problem soon reared its head and Jones was left stranded at pit lane entry on lap 57 of 161, losing time as Tasman mechanics ran to him to push him into the pit bay.
Down a lap, Richards resumed and had looked to score a lucky break though found himself trapped behind the Safety Car down a lap after the leading Lowndes Falcon pitted.
Another Safety Car period on lap 67, when David Brabham was beached at McPhillamy Park, helped put #3 back onto the lead lap and from there Richards mounted a fight back.
It would take the car right back up into the top 10 as Jones continued before returning the car to Richards on lap 105.
But a steering problem entering the 300 km/h Chase on lap 152 while running seventh sent Richards flying off the track and into the sand.
Repairs were made but the car crashed out later and was a non finisher.
The team's #23 Firepower Commodore of Owen Kelly and Mark Noske had a solid if unspectacular day, pushing on to finish 15th with a car that lacked any form of pace to match it with the cars around them.
The duo dropped a lap after bei ng called in to pit early before a Safety Car period that followed and they were left to fight for the rest of the day.
With the Gold Coast Indy event just a fortnight away, the Tasman team will be left with a busy schedule to either repair the #3 car or build up its spare chassis in order to join the 31-car field.
Jason Richards (#3 Firepower Commodore VZ)
"I was doing 150km/h at Reid Park when the car went into the wall that put it out. I was actually going slower than normal racing speed but it just had no steering. In the Chase the steering didn't work and I scared the hell out of myself at 300 km/h. Maybe it was the steering rack, but I'm not really sure. We had problems all day with the fuel pressure and the radio, which I actually had to get Andrew to plug my headphones back in at the last pit stop. So with all those problems, we were struggling to pay much attention to tuning the car. I'm happy with the speed we showed and personally, the way I ran the weekend. You have to take some positives away from it all. I must congratulate my old team-mate Jamie Whincup on his win too."
Andrew Jones (#3 Firepower Commodore VZ)
"Well the day did start well and Jason's first stint was a really great one. My first one wasn't such a blinder but we were well in the top 10, although I was not mega comfortable with the feel of the car. So I was trying to chase the setup with anti roll bar adjustments but I couldn't find the sweet spot. The second stint was a lot better. From the end of my first stint we had fuel pressure problems which we haven't got the bottom of. At the Chase I went for the reserve pump switch and it just died on the run into the pits. A mid-race Safety Car helped gain us that lap we lost but it was just one of those days that got away in the end."
Owen Kelly (#23 Firepower Commodore VZ)
"It was an ordinary day for us really. We just didn't have the pace all weekend that we needed to make any headway through the field. Our plan all along was to stay out of trouble and that should have been enough to get up into the top 10. But without the pace we couldn't push on and achieve that. It was more of a day about risk management and driving around and around than anything. It's frustrating but in the circumstances of the accident on Saturday, the rest of the weekend is pretty insignificant really."
Mark Noske (#23 Firepower Commodore VZ)
"We struggled all day really. We got caught out with a Safety Car earlier in the race because we'd been brought in early to open up the pit window for the other car. So that basically made our day a struggle because once you're off the lead lap you need some luck and a fast car to get back onto it. I didn't want to stick the car in the fence trying to push too hard because we didn't have the pace to go with anyone and race them."