Race one at the Auckland SuperSprint on Saturday was action packed from start to finish. With morning qualifying washed out by unsafe track conditions, (Monster Energy FG X driver Cameron Waters started from pole position having posted the fastest practice lap on Friday, but the sophomore star lost out on chances for his second race win after being caught out by the conditions and going off-track on Lap 33. He did however climb back to finish ninth in an otherwise quiet performance.
Chaz Mostert spent most of his day well inside the top ten, but a late incident with the Erebus of David Reynolds, that saw even more carnage unfold, saw the 25-year old hit with a pit lane drive-through penalty on Lap 64 of 66, dropping him from seventh to 23rd, where he would later finish. With the frustrating result, Mostert was then 210 points behind Jamie Whincup in the championship standings and dropped to fifth behind Red Bull Holden’s Shane van Gisbergen, who took victory in race one.
“It didn’t go to plan at all in the race. We were on the wet line for the start of the race and I dropped back into the pack which made the first part of the race difficult,” Chaz said, “We got ourselves back into it as the race went on but I just didn’t have the pace I needed. The incident with Dave started off a chain reaction which I obviously didn’t intend.”
“I couldn’t get the car going as fast as I wanted after the contact and that caused the bottleneck which I was trying to stay out of, but the outcome wasn’t great for anyone involved. The result makes our title chances much slimmer but we won’t give up and will come back and try again.”
Mark Winterbottom meanwhile, still searching for his first win of 2017, but a runner-up finish in Saturday’s Race 23 proves that the Supercar veteran still has the ability to contend for race victories. Stacked between Kiwis Shane van Gisbergen and Scott McLaughlin on the podium, Frosty scored his best finish since Phillip Island and his third podium of the 2017 Supercars season.
Fabian Coulthard was part of the carnage and he suffered a frightening accident but thankfully the Kiwi was uninjured in the shunt.
Sunday was a different story however as friendly fire hampered the efforts of three teammates in an opening lap tangle that spoiled a promising afternoon across the ditch.
The morning saw Chaz Mostert), Mark Winterbottom and Cameron Waters place 3-4-5 in morning qualifying, but the team’s bid for victory all but dissolved on Lap 1 when all three PRA drivers connected with each other at Turn 8 in the first lap scramble, spinning Mostert and damaging both his and Winterbottom’s Fords while Waters slipped through to third to salvage a podium finish behind winner Jamie Whincup and second placed Scotty McLaughlin.
“It’s good to get the podium and good for the team to get a podium. Obviously there was a low point on it with the contact at Turn 8 across the three of us,” Cam said. “From my point of view, I thought the move was on, I got beside Mark, I got up to his door and got pushed to the inside of the road, but by then Chaz had already committed to turning in. It was all a bit awkward, but we’ll go through the footage and see what happened with that.”
It became a recovery mission for Mostert and Winterbottom, the latter of whom incurred a drive-through penalty following his second stop for exceeding the pit speed limit. Mostert, however, salvaged a seventh place finish to remain mathematically alive in the championship as the season reaches its climax at the end of the month in Newcastle.
“Tough, tough day,” he said. “We qualified well and figured out why we were struggling so much earlier in the weekend, so we had that fixed. The car was really, really fast in the race, but we just got cannonballed on the first lap and ended up turned around, facing the wrong way, back to the end of all the cars, and somehow got back to seventh.”
“That just shows the speed of the car today. But it’s real disappointing for the boys, because today we had a car that should definitely have been on the podium at the least. Not a good end to our New Zealand trip.”
|DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS|