BIG LEAP FORWARD FOR WPS RACING Having both WPS Racing V8 Supercar drivers ushered into the top half of the field for the first time this season has proven a timely leap forward for the team during today's Queensland 300 event in ...
BIG LEAP FORWARD FOR WPS RACING
Having both WPS Racing V8 Supercar drivers ushered into the top half of the field for the first time this season has proven a timely leap forward for the team during today's Queensland 300 event in Ipswich.
Perseverance and an over-riding commitment to the team are traits David Besnard and Craig Baird have displayed in their driving during the first half of the 2005 season.
Understandably there were some jubilant scenes around the pit garage as the team toasted a solid performance that had Besnard finishing 13th and Baird slotting into 16th.
A superior race strategy enabled the team to capitalise during the second safety car period approaching the half-way mark of the 90-lap feature.
Back-to-back tyre and fuel stops on successive laps allowed each to command a respectable position and after 60 laps the Wright Patton Shakespeare and Fish Liquor supported entries had secured places within the top 20.
During the concluding third of the race Besnard and Baird relentlessly pushed the cars in front of them as they took advantage of having much fresher tyres aboard.
"We did exactly what we set out to do here and for both of us to finish in the top 50 percent is a decent result," said Bensard.
"Of course everyone wants to be further up the ladder but we've consolidated things here this weekend and finally run to our potential.
"In the greater scheme of things this is a big step forward and full credit to the team on a race strategy that proved spot on.
"I had a long stint on my first set of tyres and then when the safety car came out we were able to pit and fuel then really make our move.
"It was a great feeling passing the guys in front of us over the concluding stages who had done likewise to us early on."
Baird's remarkable comeback from 26th on the starting grid was made all the more impressive after losing radio communication with the team during the opening lap.
An initial impromptu pit on lap 13 caught the crew unaware as they made the initial compulsory tyre change and rectified the problem.
This caused the New Zealander to slip back into last position, but then another tactical tyre then fuel change during the safety car period proved a masterstroke.
"With what we put together out there today it proves we can genuinely be one of the best chances in the field," said Baird.
"As a team we've come away with what we wanted, but again having to push through the entire pack doesn't give you the best chance of pushing the front-runners.
"The radio problem wasn't the ideal start but we did come back strong on fresh tyres.
"After everything we've been through this year it was a magic feeling to be out there having a good go at it. We've come away from the weekend with two straight chassis'.
"We're not moving mountains just yet but once we progress with a new engine program we'll be sure to see even better results.
"I can't wait to jump into the seat once we slot in an even better engine and go racing.
"Once we're qualifying better, we'll have the other teams looking and I don't think that situation will be too far down the track."
With the greatly anticipated start of the endurance rounds now less than 50 days away and WPS Racing showing greater potential, there's a certain air of excitement towards the remainder of the 2005 series, starting next month at Sydney's Oran Park Raceway.
In the final wash-up from today's event, Ford filled the top two spots courtesy of Craig Lowndes and defending Champion Marcos Ambrose, while Holden's Garth Tander completed the podium.