TEKNO Autosports had a fantastic weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin, with consistency across all three races rewarded with Jonathon Webb and Shane van Gisbergen earning first and second place for the round.
The weather during a Darwin winter could not be described as anything short of perfection, with blue skies and temperatures in the low thirties for the entire weekend meaning rain would not trouble the field at any stage over the weekend.
The V8 Supercars field headed to Darwin with a very small tyre allocation – 3 sets of hard tyres and two sets of softs – for the weekend, which meant tyre management was extremely important.
This saw Friday practice become a bit of a mish-mash, with many teams – TEKNO included – opting to run wet tyres in the dry conditions to save their slicks for later in the weekend. This saw Team TEKNO V.I.P. Petfoods driver Shane van Gisbergen end practice one in 28th position, running wet tyres for the entire session. Interestingly, his 1:13.4 lap time ended up being the fastest time set on wets for the weekend!
By the end of Friday practice, both van Gisbergen and Team TEKNO Darrell Lea’s Jonathon Webb were in the top ten, with good race pace becoming evident.
Saturday morning qualifying ended with Shane scoring a spot in the top ten shootout in ninth, and Jonathon starting from 16th after a session marred by traffic. Shane went on to improve his starting position to eighth in the shootout.
The 60/60 format made a return in Darwin, with the opening 42-lap race split into 21-lap halves with a 15-minute interval.
It would prove to be an action packed race, with the first half of the race highlighted by a battle between Shane and Fabian Coulthard, complete with panel rubbing.
The real carnage came after the double file restart of the second half, when a mistake from Lowndes caused a concertina effect that saw Will Davison out of the race, and left Tim Blanchard parked at the trackside.
Good strategy, clever tyre management and capitalising on the mistakes of others – including the coming together of FPR teammates David Reynolds and Mark Winterbottom – saw Shane finish Race 17 on the second step of the podium, with Jonathon fourth, just one second away from a podium berth.
Shane was very pleased to be on the podium again, after his third place finish in Texas. “Things just worked for us today. We got a bit knocked around in the first half, and finished where we started, but then the second race we kind of had it all done for us! We had pretty good speed, but there was lots of action and it was pretty interesting. It’s another good haul of points. I tried to be quite conservative, we got quite lucky in the hairpin not to be clipped, but when everyone else fell off we took the track position.”
Jonathon was also pleased with his fourth place result. “I think we got a pretty good start, kept out of the biff and barge and made up a few spots, and then from there we consolidated for the second half. The car was really strong; we got lucky with everyone taking themselves out, put some pressure on the front guys and gained another spot towards the end when Brighty (Jason Bright) speared off. Given a couple more laps, we probably could have challenged Courtney too.”
Sunday brought more sunshine and two 100km races in the afternoon heat. Qualifying again proved a little difficult for the boys, with Jonathon starting Race 18 seventh, and Shane ninth. Race 19 would see them start 12th and 14th respectively.
Race 18 was a reasonably clean 35 laps, with good strategy seeing Jonathon and Shane climb through the field. The only hiccup was a coming together between Jonathon and Scott Pye, which was later cleared as a racing incident. Race 18 would see Jonathon finish sixth and Shane eighth.
Race 19 would prove to be the most action packed of all, with a major crash involving most of the field occurring on the first lap, leaving Dean Fiore’s car parked in a tyre wall. The crash eliminated Fiore, Tim Slade, David Wall, Alex Davison, James Moffat, Lee Holdsworth and Alex Premat.
The race was immediately red flagged, and was shortened from the scheduled 35 laps to 24. It was delayed again when James Courtney’s HRT car stopped on the side of the circuit, bringing out the safety car. More great driving and swift pit stops saw Jonathon and Shane able to climb the ladder, with Jonathon again one place away from a podium in fourth, with Shane sixth.
The consistency from both drivers meant that TEKNO walked away from Darwin with the most points earned in the round, making Jonathon the round winner and Shane second. This has catapulted Team TEKNO to fourth in the Team’s Championship, in front of the Holden Racing Team. Shane is now fourth in the driver’s standings, with Jonathon solidifying his 10th place, closing the gap on 9th placed James Courtney.
Jonathon on Sunday: “Bit of a surprise to be number one in the points for the weekend, but I suppose it shows how much of an up and down weekend it’s been for everyone, and the fact that we were clean and consistent. And for Shane to be second, that’s great for the team. I just can’t seem to crack the podium! We’ve had that many fourth place finishes, hopefully we can crack it in Townsville and jump a few more places there.”
Shane on Sunday: “It was a consistent weekend for us. We didn’t get qualifying right again, so we had to start a fair way back, but we had a lot of luck, drove smart, got good points and ended up first and second for the weekend, so it shows that we’re doing a pretty good job with everything. Townsville hasn’t been a good circuit for me in the past, so I’m looking forward to that one and going better than I ever have. I don’t really want to think about the championship just yet, but weekends like this help a lot so we’ll keep doing what we’re doing and hopefully I’ll keep climbing!”
The V8 Supercars Championship now moves to Townsville, for the Sucrogen Townsville 400, on July 5-7.