OPPORTUNITY GOES BEGGING
OPPORTUNITY GOES BEGGING
Stone Brothers Racing
May 31, 2009
It was another missed opportunity today for SBR when a problem during a scheduled pit stop cost van Gisbergen time dropping him from a competitive top ten position to one lap down.
After this morning’s 20 minute qualifying session the SP Tools Racing Falcon and IRWIN Racing Falcon lined up on the grid in 11th and 19th respectively. Unhappy with their starting positions SBR’s drivers, van Gisbergen and Davison had some work to do, and with half the field still having their soft tyres on reserve it looked to be a long hard race ahead.
At the green light all 30 cars got off the line and made it cleanly through the tight hairpin without incident. The first of the pit stops took place on Lap 1 before the SP Tools Falcon entered Pit Lane on Lap 4 for a new set of rear tyres and fuel. Van Gisbergen re-entered and spent the next few laps dicing with Lowndes before settling into a race rhythm.
IRWIN Racing’s Alex Davison was to stay out for much longer before his first stop as part of the team’s strategy. Davison remained the highest placed driver on hard tyres before pitting on Lap 36 for rear tyres and fuel.
The race continued without incident when on Lap 53 van Gisbergen was called in to pit again after Murphy spun at the hairpin. The team were hoping for a Safety Car but that was not to be as Murphy eventually rejoined the race without assistance.
Car #9 came in for another top up of fuel and four tyres but when the engine stalled on exit the SP Tools Falcon remained stationary as Shane battled to restart the car. The SBR crew looked on powerless to help as the 30 second struggle cost him dearly, dropping him from 10th to a lap down.
Just seven laps later the IRWIN FG Falcon was in for fuel and four new tyres, the following lap would throw the field wide open when Courtney crashed and failed trying to limp his wrecked car back to Pit Lane.
The beginning of a Safety Car streak began on Lap 60, this was to be the first Yellow of three over 15 minutes. One lap after the restart the Safety Car was again deployed to retrieve Jason Richards’s car stranded at the hairpin.
After the 2nd restart the field had reshuffled into race position with Davison sitting in 9th. With 7 laps to go Fiore was buried at the hairpin forcing the Safety Car to re-enter the track for the third time.
Davison struggled with rear grip for the remaining laps unable to hold onto position and keep out those behind him on soft tyres. At the end of 84 laps Alex had dropped back three positions to finish in 12th, van Gisbergen crossing the line 20th.
Paul Forgie – Car #9 Engineer
“It was a potential top 5 result today lost. It’s cost us two Championship positions which is frustrating when we had a car worthy of a solid result.
“Shane did a great job in the middle stint and the boys did a good job of the pit stops.
“We are getting closer and closer to a podium it just hasn’t fallen into place for us yet. All the ingredients are there .............we’re looking to Darwin now.”
Alex Davison – Driver IRWIN Racing Car #4
“We had a good race and strategy today. We maintained good pace particularly in the first part of the race and made good progress. The middle stint wasn’t as good, after we put rear tyres on and it gave the car a lot of understeer but luckily we managed to get most of the balance back by adjusting the roll bars so we were still quite competitive at that point.
“We were up to 9th place but after the last stop and safety cars something strange happened , I had minor contact with a couple of cars but it felt as if something was damaged because we had no rear grip and were left with no speed to fight with.
“There are a lot of positives we got out of the weekend. We didn’t go well in Race 1 or Qualifying today but each time that happens we learn from it and get the car going well and manage to be competitive again.
Shane van Gisbergen – Driver SP Tools Racing Car #9
“It was an okay this weekend for us, we qualified 11th yet again for today’s race.
“We were running up there and then the engine stalled and wouldn’t restart. I was trying to start it by switching to reserve fuel but nothing was working. It finally started but we came out of it a lap down.
“Even though we didn’t get the result we wanted we proved could have been up there today. It would have been nice to finish the weekend with two top 6 finishes but these things happen and I won’t dwell on it.
“We went well at Darwin last year and I know the team and I will come up with something great there.”