TEKNO has come away from the Sucrogen Townsville 400 with another podium finish in the bag, in a weekend where even better results went begging. In a return to an endurance racing format, where pit stop strategy is all-important, the Sucrogen Townsville 400 would provide emotional highs and lows for the entire TEKNO Autosports team.
Friday Practice saw Team TEKNO V.I.P. Petfoods’ Shane van Gisbergen and Team TEKNO Darrell Lea’s Jonathon Webb participating in only two practice sessions, whilst they searched for a solid race set-up. In what has become a Friday staple, varying tyre quality across the field made it very difficult to gauge where the cars would end up come qualifying.
Another practice session on Saturday morning with mixed tyres saw Shane in P7 and Jonathon P20, before the team bolted fresh tyres onto the cars for the 20-minute qualifying session. Shane set the track alight in the Race 20 qualifying session, taking provisional pole and a place in the top ten shootout with a 1:13.56, in front of Mark Winterbottom and Fabian Coulthard. Jonathon had issues with his rear brakes locking, causing him to qualify 17th. It was an equally tough session for the two Triple Eight Race Engineering cars, with Lowndes qualifying 11th and Whincup 16th.
The Team TEKNO V.I.P. Petfoods Commodore was the final car to head out onto the circuit for the shootout, keeping his momentum rolling to take the Armor All Pole Position award for the third time in 2013, with a time two-tenths faster than second-place sitter Will Davison.
That pole lap would prove to be the highlight of TEKNO’s Saturday, with the races challenging to all in the team. Both Shane and Jonathon showed great speed throughout the early stages of the first 70-lap race, with pace that would have likely ended in a podium finish. Unfortunately a series of errors during the pit-stops – resulting in Jonathon driving away from the pit with the fuel rig still attached to the car – saw both Shane and Jonathon receive pit-lane penalties.
The penalties put paid to a quality result on Saturday, with Shane finishing 17th and Jonathon 22nd. The upside of this was the team were able to look after an additional set of soft tyres, which would come in handy on Sunday. Another qualifying session on Sunday in advance of Race 21 of the championship was hampered by a red flag with three minutes remaining in the session, following a broken damper for Russell Ingall.
This left both Jonathon and Shane with only one flying lap instead of their usual two at the end of the session, ending in compromised qualifying results of 18th and 21st respectively. Things appeared to go from bad to worse when Shane was spun at turn two on the first lap, falling back to 26th place. Jonathon moved up to 15th early in the race, and when a safety car came out on lap 10, both drivers pitted for fuel and soft tyres.
This sparked a major fight back, supported by great team strategy and fast, clean pit stops. The TEKNO cars sliced through the field, moving rapidly into the top ten. They worked their way through to 5th and 6th, before making their second visit to the pits for fuel and another set of soft tyres – the benefit of a lacklustre Saturday. Shane had an absolutely stellar drive, ending the race in third, with another podium to his name! Jonathon had great pace early in the final stint, but a combination of a cool-suit malfunction – that saw him helped from the car at the end of the race – and degradation of his tyres saw him finish 12th, still a fantastic result from p18 on the grid.
Shane was ecstatic to be back on the podium. “That was awesome. I was turned backwards at turn one. There was some crazy stuff at the back of the field,” he said. “To come out third – I didn’t believe it, but we had some good car speed which really helped as well. It was a great result and makes up for yesterday. I thought we might have enough to make James push on a bit but the gap was just too big,” he concluded.
Jonathon was disappointed to not be further up the field, but happy for the solid team result. “I think for the team, the day was good. For Shane to recover today and push towards the front was brilliant,” said Jonathon. We were side by side there for a while, but my car wasn’t handling that well and chewed up the tyres pretty quickly, so we got pushed around towards the end and lost six or eight spots in the last few laps. We’ll turn it around for a crack at our home track at Queensland Raceway.”
Team TEKNO is now fifth in the Team’s Championship, with Shane van Gisbergen fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, and Jonathon Webb 10th. The V8 Supercars Championship will return at Queensland Raceway for the Coates Hire Ipswich 360 on the weekend of 26-28 July.
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