Jason Bargwanna and Mark Winterbottom overcame adversity aboard the Number 10 Orrcon Racing Falcon to record the Gold Coast based team's best round finish of 2004 at the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 in Melbourne today. After qualifying through...
Jason Bargwanna and Mark Winterbottom overcame adversity aboard the Number 10 Orrcon Racing Falcon to record the Gold Coast based team's best round finish of 2004 at the Betta Electrical Sandown 500 in Melbourne today.
After qualifying through his fourth top ten shootout of the year Melbourne based Bargwanna, the more experienced of the pair, took to the start line from ninth position on the grid for the 161-lap journey.
"This is always the most nervous time as a co-driver sitting back watching your team mate do the hard work in the early laps and miss all of the incidents," said Winterbottom.
Following an opening stint that included a number of safety car periods to retrieve cars that were stranded on the rain soaked grass Bargwanna pitted for the first time on lap 54 whilst in third position.
Just prior to Bargwanna pitting for the compulsory brake pad, tyre change and fuel stop Mark Larkham pitted handing over the driving duties in the Number 20 Orrcon Racing Falcon to V8 Supercar debutant Matt Halliday.
Larkham was enduring a minor engine misfire while holding a position just outside the top 20.
As Bargwanna entered pit lane the reserve fuel pump failed halting him 50 metres from the Orrcon Racing pit bay. It was only feverous work by the team who pushed the car into the pit bay ensuring they remained in contention.
Winterbottom steered through some mid race carnage where several of the top runners were eliminated to be well inside the top ten when he returned to the pit area on Lap 89 to complete a "splash and go" fuel stop.
"We were doing the numbers as wanted to make sure our fuel mileage would get us to the end without a heap of risk, under a safety car period we took the opportunity to fill up which put us out of cycle with everyone else but only dropped us one spot," said team engineer Jamie Wattam.
When the safety car emerged again on lap 109 it was time for Winterbottom to hand the reigns back to Bargwanna for the run to the finish.
As he pitted the car for third time of the event Winterbottom was the race leader. The Number 10 Orrcon Racing Falcon returned to the circuit in seventh position with Bargwanna at the wheel.
Over the closing stages Bargwanna was engaged in a close battle with the likes of Brad Jones, Greg Murphy, Cameron McConville and Warren Luff for third through to seventh position.
Bargwanna held strong to cross the line sixth, in the process recording his career best result at the historic Melbourne circuit. The sixth place was also a career best for Winterbottom career best after last year finishing 11th last year.
Halliday was involved in an incident with 50 laps remaining forcing the team to replace the steering arm and several other components in the left front corner of the car.
After returning to the track for the remainder of the race the kiwi endured electrical problems ending his race within sight of the finish.
"Today was a great effort by the team with a great strategy to make sure we stayed in a competitive position after the fuel pump problem early in the race," said Bargwanna.
"We can now focus on Bathurst with the knowledge that was have a very strong race car. If it wasn't for the minor issues we had today we would have been on the podium, if we can get through Bathurst with no issues we will be a serious contender."
Marcos Ambrose and Greg Ritter took out today's event followed by Russell Ingall and Cameron McLean ahead of Steven Johnson and Warren Luff.
Ambrose now leads the Championship on 1487 points ahead of Jason Bright on 1464 with Steven Richards 67 points behind in third. Bargwanna is 10th on 962 with Winterbottom 22nd on 764.