Hidden Valley: Paragon Motorsport final report

McLean claims season'S best result in Darwin. THE first top-20 finish of the season capped a strong performance for Cameron McLean and the V.I.P. Pet Foods Ford Falcon in round four of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Darwin's Hidden...

McLean claims season'S best result in Darwin.

THE first top-20 finish of the season capped a strong performance for Cameron McLean and the V.I.P. Pet Foods Ford Falcon in round four of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Darwin's Hidden Valley circuit today.

The Brisbane driver battled extreme heat to finish 19th in this afternoon's 35-lap third leg, after a 24th place this morning and 29th in yesterday's 20-lap twilight sprint.

The Northern Territory's "autumnal" 33 degrees and high humidity sapped both car and driver, forcing McLean to concede 18th place to Larry Perkins only three laps from the end of race three.

"This wasn't a matter of fitness, just extremely high temperatures inside the car and tough conditions for the tyres," an exhausted McLean said later.

"In race two, the gear knob got so hot I could barely touch it. I actually considered wearing two gloves on my left hand for the last race, but it wasn't practical."

Despite the conditions, Darwin produced the Paragon Motorsport team's best result of the season; 25th overall lifted McLean one position in the 2002 drivers' championship, to 33rd.

"We still have a way to go with our new Falcon to match our previous levels, but we're definitely heading in the right direction. Today was the first time I'd been able to race with certain drivers and as a bonus we came away with an unmarked car to take to Canberra.

"It's hard to imagine we're going from this to winter in Canberra in three weeks' time," McLean said.

Race three was an uneventful contest, apart from a safety car period called when another driver's car ran off the track and started a grass fire.

McLean made a fast start and, aided by an excellent pitstop by the Paragon crew on lap 13, worked his way to 18th place by lap 23.

In the morning's 35-lap race, McLean claimed 24th after dodging a huge accident on lap one and surviving a last-minute mechanical drama.

The crash involved up to 10 cars, but McLean was able to drive around the carnage. Then, five laps from the end, heat caused an axle oil seal to fail and smoke belched from the rear of the car.

"The heat and pressure were obviously too much for the hub seal and the oil started to leak about five laps from the finish. I was hoping the differential wouldn't run out of oil or the officials wouldn't pull me in for a look," McLean said.

RESULTS - Race 1 (20 laps):
1 Bright (Commodore)
2 Skaife (Commodore)
3 Ambrose (Falcon)
4 Murphy (Commodore)
5 T. Kelly (Commodore)
29 McLean (V.I.P. Pet Foods Falcon)

RESULTS - Race 2 (35 laps):
1 Skaife (Commodore)
2 Bright (Commodore)
3 T. Kelly (Commodore)
4 Murphy (Commodore)
5 Besnard (Falcon)
24 McLean (V.I.P. Pet Foods Falcon)

RESULTS - Race 3 (35 laps):
1 Skaife (Commodore)
2 Bright (Commodore)
3 Murphy (Commodore)
4 S. Richards (Commodore)
5 Ambrose (Falcon)
19 McLean (V.I.P. Pet Foods Falcon)

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS (after Round 4): 62 points McLean (33rd overall); 1044 Skaife, 577 Murphy, 508 Ambrose.

TEAM SPONSORS: In addition to V.I.P. Pet Foods, the Paragon Motorsport Ford Falcon V8 Supercar is sponsored by Cox Lawn Care Products, All Power Steering, Eibach Springs, Freightliner Trucks, PPG Paints, Revolution Racegear, Screen Offset Printing, Snap-on Tools, Spandex, Street Smart Designs and Wurth.

-pm-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers Cameron McLean