The Betta Electrical Sandown 500 started today under sunny conditions and patches of blue sky in contrast to yesterday's conditions where snow fell over night less than 10 klm from the circuit. Racing got underway without major incident...
The Betta Electrical Sandown 500 started today under sunny conditions and patches of blue sky in contrast to yesterday's conditions where snow fell over night less than 10 klm from the circuit.
Racing got underway without major incident however David Besnard's WPS Ford left the circuit on lap one, requiring the safety car to enter the circuit for what transpired as the first of no less than four safety car appearances within the first 20 laps of the 161 lap event.
Paul Radisich driving Team Betta Electrical car #88, whilst starting the race in 19th position on the grid quickly made up six positions within the first 30 laps of the race. Dean Canto, driving Team Better Electrical car #888 dropped several positions early in the race when forced to make an unscheduled pit stop, returning to the field in 30th position.
Canto showed great form in climbing back up to 21st spot by lap 34. Paul Radisich had worked his way up to 12th position by lap 40, only to have a component on the car fail, forcing car #88 to retire from the race.
Meanwhile Canto also experienced problems with his car forcing he to into the pits for an assessment on lap 41. Unfortunately the assessment did not yield a good outcome for the team. It was bad news for both the Team Betta Electrical cars, and their race was over. The mechanical problems both the cars experienced prevented them from re- entering the race and finishing.
The race for the remaining cars in the field continued at a fast and furious pace with the pit window opening for the brake pad changes at lap 48. Most teams took advantage of this compulsory stop to refuel and also do the driver change. Each driver had to complete at least 54 laps during the race.
The safety car had a busy day being called out on eleven occasions throughout the race, once in lap 77, because of an incident at turn 2 involving Jamie Winchup car #7. At lap 104 Jason Bright driving car #50 had one of the closest calls of the race when he had an off, turned around and went straight across the track threading in between Skaife in car #2 & Murphy in car #51.
Bright survived, pushing through the mud and nosing straight back onto the track and continuing relatively unscathed. In lap 109 Skaife in car #02 was taken out of the race after an incident involving several other cars. On lap 147 the Brock driven #05 car was involved in another racing incident that put the car at the back of the field.
After the race all four Team Betta Electrical drivers were disappointed with their day at the track. "The cars performed well at our last test day and we were really hoping for a good outcome today," said a very disappointed Wilson after he did not even get a chance to drive in the race proper. "The cars showed no signs of any of these problems during testing and we were confident that we were going to have a good show at a podium finish today," said and equally disappointed Radisich.
Muller was philosophical in observing that, "at least I had a chance to get a bit more familiar with the car prior to racing at Bathurst in October." Canto was also philosophical in that he had been expecting a good result saying, "the cars were going really well at testing and I could notice a big improvement since I had last driven them. I was really sure that we had a good chance if we could go the distance today. The car felt good to drive."
The Blue Oval Fords came through today for the fortieth anniversary of the enduros at Sandown, finishing first, second and third. Marcos Ambros and Greg Ritter got the checkered flag at 4.45pm the official finish time, on lap 160, closely followed by Russell Ingall and Cameron McLean giving Stone Brothers Racing first and second followed by Steven Johnson and Warren Luff from DJR.in third place.
Later at the media conference, Guy Houghton CEO of Betta Stores Ltd. again congratulated the winning drivers for their impressive effort during the very difficult race and further announced the company, Betta Electrical had agreed to continue to sponsor this major event on the V8 Supercar calendar as the naming rights sponsor for a further two years, a decision that was welcomed enthusiastically by both attending competitors and the awaiting media.
A record crowd attendance of 60,351 was recorded for today's V8 Supercar Round 9 event.