We’ve been treated to a couple of beautiful days on Phillip Island, but today the infamous Bass Straight weather moved in and gave the circuit a good drenching during practice four in the morning through until qualifying just after lunch.
The morning’s practice session was half dry, half wet with the inclement weather proving a boon to both Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb, who were first and third with wet tyres on.
Come qualifying, the track was dry, and the times would come on the hard-compound slick tyre. Shane was quickest early in the session on wets, and when the change to slicks came on he ended the session seventh. Jonathon was also quick in the wet, however wasn’t able to maximise his slick tyres, and would start the race from p23.
The final 60/60 race of the season was an action packed one, with the first half punctuated by a sickening crash between James Courtney and Alex Premat. Courtney was helped from the car by Premat, and both walked to the medical car – a testament to the integral safety of the Car of the Future chassis.
After a lot of rough and tumble – and plenty of elbows out – the first 14-lap half ended with Shane in p4 – gaining three positions due to Lowndes and Winterbottom coming together on the last lap, and Jonathon p19 – a good recovery after being last on lap one.
A few changes to the cars in the break were made in the hope of finding a little more speed, but it wasn’t to be and both drivers had a battle on their hands in the final 14 laps. Shane was running up front in P4 for several laps, before Winterbottom got past.
He held p5 for most of the race, with Championship leader Jamie Whincup right behind him. Unfortunately, a small mistake under braking saw him fall back to eighth; however a dive on Chaz Mostert into the final corner, on the last lap, gained him a seventh place finish.
Jon’s race was a case of win some, lose some. He started p19, lost a couple of positions, and then fought back through to finish p18. He battled his car, and the pack, throughout the race and now refocuses on improving his result tomorrow.
How they saw it:
Team TEKNO Darrell Lea #19 VF Commodore
Race 32 Finishing Position: 19th
“I got a pretty average start, but didn’t lost a whole lot of ground until we came out of turn two, and there were a couple of cars piled up on the exit of turn two, and I had nowhere to go left, so I had to stop and let them back on and follow them. I think I was dead last at that stage! From there we pushed on, had some OK speed, overtook a couple of cars, watched a lot fall off and really stayed out of trouble in the first half, I don’t think there was a mark on the car. The second half we started 19th, and again everyone baulked. I felt like I got a good start and had a good run, but just ended up with everyone pushing everyone out of the way. The car was alright, but not awesome and I couldn’t do a lot with it. We’ll have another go tomorrow. I’m just pleased to see that JC [James Courtney] and Alex [Premat] were OK after that shunt. That was a big one!”
Shane van Gisbergen
Team TEKNO V.I.P. Petfoods #97 VF Commodore
Race 32 Finishing Position: 7th
“It was a crazy race. All over the place in the first half. I got together with a couple of guys, one was my fault and one wasn’t. That crash between James [Courtney] and Premat was massive. Was happy to see they both got out OK. We finished the first half fourth, and made a slight change to the car before the next race, but it was rubbish. It took a long time to come good, I made some changes to the roll bars in the car, and it balanced out, but I’d lost too much time in the early part of the race and then we struggled. I then made a mistake later in the race and let a few cars through. Whincup was really good under brakes, so I was braking really late to cover him, and I made a mistake being on the limit every lap. The car was loose as, but hopefully we’ll fix it for tomorrow.”