GAUNT AND LDM MAKE PROGRESS AT WINTON MAY 17, 2010: Daniel Gaunt aboard the Gulf Western Oils Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Holden is ever so slightly closing the gap to the V8 Supercar Championship Series front runners, this weekend being just a ...
GAUNT AND LDM MAKE PROGRESS AT WINTON
MAY 17, 2010: Daniel Gaunt aboard the Gulf Western Oils Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Holden is ever so slightly closing the gap to the V8 Supercar Championship Series front runners, this weekend being just a second off the pace at a wintery Winton Motor Raceway in Victoria.
Despite losing a substantial amount of practice with an issue traced to the rear suspension, Dan set the 16th fastest time in Friday's final practice. The issue meant the team was playing catch up from the beginning and struggled to find a balance with the car that suited the driver.
In qualifying, although he was just a second from the fastest time, so competitive is the current V8 Supercar Championship, Gaunt qualified 27th -- a result he would repeat in Sunday's 20 minute free-for-all session.
Saturday's race saw the 25-year-old Kiwi endure a tough race -- the second consecutive event where V8 Supercar drivers were all using the Dunlop Super Maxx Sprint tyre. He would go on to finish in 25th placing. The team pitted for a new set of sprint tyres on lap 21.
Sunday's race would prove to be far more exciting for the Gulf Western team. The cool conditions -- barely nudging 18 degrees -- belied the hot racing on track. The early running provided plenty of excitement for Gaunt, being involved in an eight car battle that resembled the Talladega Superspeedway rather than Winton Motor Raceway.
Taking advantage of bad days for some competitors, including former Championship leader, Jamie Whincup -- who Dan spectacularly passed close to mid-race distance -- he was able to bring the former Garth Tander piloted, Gulf Western-supported machine home in 19th position. Dan also had a good battle with Paul Dumbrell -- brother of Team Principal, Lucas, in the Bottle-O Falcon.
The team pitted on lap 28 and then with a gaggle of other cars on lap 38 of the 67 lap, 200 kilometre race, taking advantage of a Safety Car triggered by Jason Bargwanna spinning at turn one.
Given the team's base is just a couple of hours away in Melbourne, the LDM Gulf Western Team had a strong support crew of fans and sponsors turn out for the weekend.
The meeting was dominated by Jim Beam Racing's James Courtney who took his Ford to both race victories and the Championship lead.
The next round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series will be conducted in three weeks time at Darwin's Hidden Valley Raceway over the weekend of June 4-6 -- the expected 30-plus degree temperatures will be somewhat of a contrast to this weekend at Winton!
DANIEL GAUNT: "It was a pretty solid weekend for us, we are closer to the mark. Being just a second off the pace is pleasing, but it shows just how tight this entire Championship is that I can be a second off the pace, but qualify 27th.
"The issue on Friday put us behind. We thought we had the car sorted from Queensland, but this cropped up. We were behind the eight ball a little as a result and I wasn't entirely comfortable.
"Saturday's race was a little more pedestrian than I would have liked, but Sunday's was a good one for us. To finish where we did and execute the passes we were able to really gave me a lot of confidence.
"Now we're off to Darwin, another new track for me. It will certainly be different to Winton, but I hear that it's always a great event and the fans are very passionate, so we're really looking forward to waving the flag for Gulf Western Oils in the top end!"
LUCAS DUMBRELL (Team Principal): "I felt we made progress this weekend at Winton. It was exciting racing as a fan and I thought that Dan's performance in being able to mix it with some Championship high flyers was particularly impressive.
"We aren't that far off the pace -- while one second isn't much -- it is light years in terms of position. From here we have to work on being even closer and the boys will work even harder to advance us up the grid. Winton was special for us, as it's the only circuit that we go to where we have pre-existing data, so we had to try and make the most of it.
"Darwin will be another challenge as a circuit -- we've not been there before -- and it always produces some interesting racing. We're hopeful that we can break into that top 25 region in qualifying and continue to advance during the races."
THE GOOD OIL -- Behind the scenes at LDM
GRIPPED TO THE MAXX
The last two V8 Supercar events have been significant in that they have been conducted solely on the Dunlop Super Maxx Sprint Tyre -- or the soft tyre option as you may hear it referred to.
Responding from requests of drivers to have tyres with more grip, V8 Supercars Australia commissioned control tyre supplier, Dunlop, to provide such a tyre. The Dunlop Super Maxx Sprint was introduced during 2009 for selected V8 Supercar events as an 'option' tyre, designed to afford drivers more grip and put on a better spectacle for fans.
From its introduction last year, it has had the desired effect as the tyre has proven to need careful management throughout the race weekend. The experiment of conducting two whole race meetings this year on the Super Maxx Sprint has delivered some of the best V8 Supercar racing seen in many a year.
For the Sprint Tyre only events, teams were issued with 20 tyres per event by V8 Supercars Australia, with a further four tyres distributed at Queensland Raceway to be used for testing.
Significantly, many of the newer drivers to the Series have featured prominently in results, with those coming from the now defunct Porsche Carrera Cup Championship declaring the characteristic similar to the Michelin tyre used worldwide in that category.
LDM/Gulf Western racer, Daniel Gaunt -- who is no stranger to Porsche racing in his native New Zealand -- rates the Super Maxx Sprint Tyre very highly.
"It gives you so much more grip that you can go into corners deeper and if you are thinking about making a move on someone, you are able to have a go," he said. "You have the confidence to make the move and I think you're seeing the results of that in the racing at Queensland Raceway and here at Winton this weekend."
Gaunt illustrated that point perfectly during today's event.
"I love racing on this tyre and if it was to be used more frequently, I certainly wouldn't mind and I don't think the fans would either."
The LDM/Gulf Western Oils team returned "home" this weekend for the sixth event of the V8 Supercar Championship Series in 2010, races 11 and 12. Being LDM's nominated test track, Winton Motor Raceway is the first track the team has visited in 2010 where it has a bank of data.
Is having that knowledge when arriving at a circuit a great assistance? Of course, says LDM Team Manager, Dean Orr.
"Like in any pursuit, data is knowledge and knowledge is power, so having that baseline when you arrive at the circuit is a great help," said Orr. "We haven't had that anywhere this year, so to come here and know roughly what to expect when the pulls onto the racetrack has been a great help.
"I think it shows in how close we are to the front of the pack this weekend, however its just so competitive at the moment that we need to be even closer to make the impact we desire."
Team driver, Daniel Gaunt enjoyed being in familiar territory this weekend. Despite being one of five Kiwis in the 29 car field, Gaunt is vastly experienced on Australian race circuits after winning an Australian Driver's Championship in the past and competing in various Championships over the years.
"It's always good to come to a circuit where you have a baseline setup. Whilst some of the circuits we go to, I have knowledge of, but haven't driven a V8 Supercar there," he explained. "At least here I could walk in feeling comfortable and I think we made a lot of progress this weekend."