REWARDING FINISH TO A DIFFICULT DAY FOR TEAM BETTA ELECTRICAL Team Betta Electrical will look to build on encouraging race pace and climb up the order after a day of highs at lows at the Placemakers V8 International at New Zealand's Pukekohe...
REWARDING FINISH TO A DIFFICULT DAY FOR TEAM BETTA ELECTRICAL
Team Betta Electrical will look to build on encouraging race pace and climb up the order after a day of highs at lows at the Placemakers V8 International at New Zealand's Pukekohe Park Raceway today.
Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup settled on a strong qualifying setup early in the day, with both drivers cruising into the Top Ten Shootout; 3rd and 7th placings respectively put them in good stead for the opening 140km race.
An average start as described by Lowndes was further complicated by a slow pit stop resulting in a number of lost positions, but a determined and tenacious drive in the latter stage of the race saw the multiple-champion fight back to take a well-earned 5th place.
"I got quite a bit of wheelspin off the start and dropped a spot early but the car was feeling great," said Lowndes.
"The pit stop didn't go exactly to plan, with an air gun issue and the car stalling as I went to pull out, and this forced me back outside the top ten with a lot of traffic to contend with."
"The nature of the track meant I was regularly catching up to slower cars but losing momentum as they pulled into the pits, it was quite hard to make up the ground to challenge the leaders."
"Overall I'm reasonably happy with the result, but tomorrow will be intersesting as rear tyres start to become a factor," Lowndes ended.
Championship-leader Jamie Whincup's bid to consolidate his position hit a snag on lap 8 as he locked a brake and nudged gently into a tyre barrier, dropping him to the rear of the field and setting him the challenging task of clawing back through the traffic.
The red-hot pace of the Triple Eight engineered Falcon was apparent as the 23-year-old stormed back through the pack, reaching 15th position before the chequered flag ended his impressive run.
Whincup attributed his early race drama to underestimating the fuel load of his Falcon, which affected the brake bias and disrupted his race plan.
"After we finally got going I found I had probably set the brake bias incorrectly for the amount of fuel the car was carrying, and I was struggling to pull it up while defending the cars behind," said Whincup.
"I came in for a pit stop after coming off the track at turn 5 and really had my work cut out for me having to come from close to the back of the pack.
"The car had some really good pace as the race went on and I managed to pick off quite a few places mid-pack, though time got the better ofme in the end.
"It was a tough race and I'll need to hedge my bets in the reverse grid race tomorrow," concluded Whincup.
On paper, the Team Betta Electrical duo were consistently setting some of the fastest laps of the sub 60 second circuit which is an encouraging notion for Lowndes and Whincup who will now start from 27th and 17th respectively for the first reverse grid clash of the year.
With car speed to burn, the likeable pair will have to concentrate on an error-free run through the slower competitors ahead in order to guarantee themselves a good grid position for the final race.
The Pukekohe crowd was treated to an drama-packed race, with local favourite Greg Murphy crashing heavily out of contention on the first lap. Holden championship threat Todd Kelly also failed to finish, and polesitter Garth Tander fell down the order as the result of a jump-start penalty. Mark Skaife won the race, ahead of Russell Ingall and Jason Bright.
The V8 Supercars return to the track tomorrow for two 140 kilometre races; half points are awarded for the race 2 reverse grid showdown and the starting position for race three is determined by combining the results.