PERSISTENCE was the key for Shane Van Gisbergen and Alex Davison as they wrestled their uncooperative car to overall victory in the Waikato 400 endurance round of the BNT V8 SuperTourers championship at Hampton Downs today.
The Kiwi-Australian pairing, both full-time V8 Supercar drivers, could not get their Ford on the podium for any of the three sections of the Aegis Oils event but they plugged away to earn the biggest points tally at the end of the weekend, while some other top teams suffered mechanical failures or crashes.
“It was due to others’ misfortunes and it was just our consistency,” Van Gisbergen said.
“We didn’t have the car to challenge for wins, there were a lot of little things but they add up. But it’s good points for the championship.”
Davison said it would have been nice to win races as well as the round, but the car did not have the balance to run right at the front.
The three sections all had different winners – Greg Murphy-Jack Perkins (Holden) in yesterday’s race, Tim Edgell-Lee Holdsworth (Holden) in today’s first race and Ant Pedersen-Chaz Mostert (Ford) in the final. Holdsworth and Mostert are both full-time V8 Supercar drivers.
However each of these teams also suffered a non-finish because of a mechanical problem.
Scott McLaughlin and Jonathon Webb were in contention for the round victory after finishing second in heat two in their Holden but Webb crashed early in the final after an attempt to pass Edgell ended with him going on the grass.
Webb’s car then shot across the track and took out the Holden of Andrew Waite and Daniel Gaunt, who had recorded good finishes in both the opening races.
Young Christchurch driver Richard Moore was rapt to finish second overall, sharing his Holden with Supercar racer Tim Slade.
“I had to pinch myself when I was chasing down Jack Perkins,” he said after finishing second in the final. “It’s so hard to compete with these full-time professionals [the Supercar drivers] when we only have seven meetings a year, but every time I get in the car we get a step forward.”
Murphy retained his overall championship lead at this fifth round of the Hafter earlier winning the four-round sprint series and – despite his non-finish – coming fifth in the first of three endurance rounds which complete the overall championship.
He would have been in strong contention for the overall round victory if not for the gearbox failure in this morning’s race. The car was a winner yesterday but did not feel so good this afternoon, he said.
“These cars are very sensitive and it doesn’t take a lot put them out of the window [of good balance],” he said.
Edgell said Holdsworth had helped develop more speed from his car and had also given him some driving tips. “Lee has absolutely changed the whole team atmosphere,” he said.
The Kiwi took over his Holden midway through race two after Holdsworth had established a lead, but found himself in an uncertain situation.
“When I got in the radio wasn’t working and I didn’t know whether we were first or second,” he said after scoring his breakthrough SuperTourers victory. “I was looking round to see if anyone was close.”
Edgell had nothing to worry about – he matched the pace of the Aussie aces behind him and brought the car home well clear of McLaughlin and Webb.
Pedersen and Mostert were forced out of race one with a broken axle but stormed back to post a third and a victory today. Pedersen stands second in the championship, ahead of Van Gisbergen.
A swift driver change helped set them on the path to the win in the final heat.
“I’ve got the bruises to prove it,” Pedersen said – in his rush to get into the car he had banged his limbs against parts of the car.
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Aegis Oils Waikato 400 endurance race, round 5 of BNT V8 SuperTourers championship and Hankook Super Series
Overall result over three long races:
1 Shane Van Gisbergen (NZ/Australia)-Alex Davison (Australia) Ford; 2 Richard Moore (Christchurch)-Tim Slade (Australia) Holden; 3 Ant Pedersen (Hamilton)-Chaz Mostert (Australia) Ford; 4 Tim Edgell (Auckland)-Lee Holdsworth (Australia) Holden; 5 Greg Murphy (NZ/Australia)-Jack Perkins (Australia) Holden Commodore; 6 Scott McLaughlin (NZ/Australia)-Jono Webb (Australia) Holden; 7 Andre Heimgartner (Auckland)-Paul Morris (Australia) Holden; 8 Craig Baird (NZ/Australia)-Matt Lockwood (Auckland) Ford; 9 Daniel Gaunt (NZ/Australia)-Andrew Waite (Auckland) Ford Falcon; 10 Gary Jacobson-Geoff Emery (both Australia) Holden.
Championship points: 1 Murphy 2722, 2 Pedersen 2648, 3 Van Gisbergen 2584, 4 Gaunt 2001, 5 Moore 1927, 6 Heimgartner 1868, 7 McLaughlin 1613, 8 John McIntyre (Nelson, Ford) 1431, 9 Paul Manuell (Auckland, Holden) 1422, 10 Edgell 1401.
Tim Slade led out from pole in the Holden he shared with Richard Moore. Ant Pedersen had his Ford in second while Holden’s Scott McLaughlin ran third – till he got a nudge from Greg Murphy’s Holden on the exit from the Dipper corner. McLaughlin went wide onto the grass and dropped a few places before he could regain the track.
Murphy was apologetic: “I tried to give him room but when I got on the gas it stepped out,” he said.
That incident put Murphy into third and he then closed on Mostert, wresting second place with an inside move through turns one and two. McLaughlin was down in ninth but beginning a recovery. Alex Davison started Shane Van Gisbergen’s Ford down in 14th after a difficult qualifying but was pushing forward.
Disaster struck the Pedersen Ford as it had to pit with a broken axle. Oil dropped by this car caused a few drivers, including Tim Edgell, to skate wide but all were able to recover. Daniel Gaunt took over third in the Tasman Ford with Craig Baird next in his Ford.
Murphy seized the lead with a classic turn-one inside move on Slade, who offered little resistance. “He had better speed plus he’s my team-mate so I didn’t want to put up too much of a fight,” the Aussie said.
Slade then dropped two more places after a moment on the oil spill, allowing Gaunt through to second and Baird to third. McLaughlin was now up to fifth, ahead of Aussie Gary Jacobson (Holden), Andre Heimgartner (Holden), John McIntyre (Ford) and Davison.
The compulsory pit stops to change drivers saw Andrew Waite emerge in the lead driving the Tasman Ford, but Jack Perkins was soon able to put Murphy’s car back in the lead as he came through at turn one.
Richard Moore took over from Slade to run third, ahead of Jono Webb in the McLaughlin car, Van Gisbergen and Matt Lockwood in the Baird car. Lee Holdsworth, co-driving with Edgell, was seventh.
Moore closed in on Waite and grabbed second at the last turn.
Race one: 1 Greg Murphy (NZ/Australia)-Jack Perkins (Australia) Holden Commodore; 2 Richard Moore (Christchurch)-Tim Slade (Australia) Holden; 3 Daniel Gaunt (NZ/Australia)-Andrew Waite (Auckland) Ford Falcon; 4 Scott McLaughlin (NZ/Australia)-Jono Webb (Australia) Holden; 5 Shane Van Gisbergen (NZ/Australia)-Alex Davison (Australia) Ford; 6 Tim Edgell (Auckland)-Lee Holdsworth (Australia) Holden; 7 Andre Heimgartner (Auckland)-Paul Morris (Australia) Holden; 8 Paul Manuell-John Penny (both Auckland) Holden; 9 Gary Jacobson-Geoff Emery (both Australia) Holden; 10 Dominic Storey (Auckland)-Mark Gibson (Taupo) Ford.
Chaz Mostert started from pole in Pedersen’s Ford, with Van Gisbergen alongside him on the front row. Holdsworth and Perkins shared row two. Paul Manuell’s car stayed in the pits, afflicted by a broken gearbox.
Van Gisbergen immediately hounded Mostert and seized the lead with a forceful move on lap one. Perkins held third ahead of Holdsworth, Andy Booth (Holden), Moore and Jonny Reid driving Simon Evans’ Holden. But Perkins’ race ended very quickly as he crawled his smoking Holden into the pits with a broken gearbox.
Holdsworth got past Mostert on lap 14 and closed on Van Gisbergen, taking the lead three laps later as he blasted past on the main straight. Mostert was still a close third and then there was a gap to Booth, Reid, Moore and Webb.
Mostert climbed back to second as he dived inside Van Gisbergen at the Dipper and around lap 24 Reid got past Booth at turn two.
Moore was closely following this pair and he tagged Booth, spinning him off the track. Booth’s Holden then shot back onto the track – and collected Eddie Bell’s Ford, wrecking the front of his own car, although Bell’s injured car was able to continue. Moore was given a drive-through penalty for this incident.
Holdsworth had built up a solid lead and after a good driver change Edgell found himself with a seven-second buffer – though he was not sure about that and pressed on. “When I got in the radio wasn’t working and I didn’t know whether we were first or second,” he said.” I was looking round to see if anyone was close.”
Edgell more than matched the pace of the aces behind him and stretched his lead to 10.6 seconds to claim an emotional first victory in this class. He paid tribute to Holdsworth’s input. “Lee has absolutely changed the whole team atmosphere,” he said. “These cars are so sensitive, and so different to the cars I’m used to, the NZV8s.”
McLaughlin passed Davison and then nailed Pedersen with a neat dive-bomb at the Dipper, coming from a little way back but executing a perfectly clean pass to gain second place. Van Gisbergen finished one place off the podium, ahead of Gaunt, Baird, Evans and Heimgartner. Moore and Slade had got back up to seventh after the drive-through but a mechanical problem right at the end dropped them to 10th.
Race two: 1 Edgell-Holdsworth; 2 McLaughlin-Webb; 3 Ant Pedersen (Hamilton)-Chaz Mostert (Australia) Ford; 4 Van Gisbergen-Davison; 5 Gaunt-Waite; 6 Craig Baird (NZ/Australia)-Matt Lockwood (Auckland) Ford; 7 Simon Evans (Auckland)-Jonny Reid (NZ/Australia) Holden; 8 Heimgartner-Morris; 9 Angus Fogg (Auckland)-Dale Wood (Australia) Holden;10 Moore-Slade.
Edgell led out from pole, chased hard by Webb who started going round the outside at the Dipper. But on the exit Edgell followed the racing line to the edge of the track and Webb went on the grass – then turned sharply and shot across the track. Unfortunately he then hit Waite and damage to both cars put them out of the race.
At the end of lap one Edgell led Davison, Pedersen, Murphy, Moore, Heimgartner and Baird. The safety car came out and then the race was red-flagged while crews recovered the Webb-McLaughlin car –another chapter in McLaughlin’s story of many misfortunes in this SuperTourer season.
On the restart Davison attacked Edgell but soon found himself under threat from behind as he got passed by Mostert and Perkins. Mostert then overtook Edgell on the front straight to hit the lead. As Davison faded Moore also came past and Lockwood closed in.
On lap 10 the order was Mostert, Perkins, Edgell, Moore, Davison, Lockwood and Morris. Edgell started dropping back and on lap 23 he came into the pits to retire, another victim of mechanical woes.
After the pit stops Pedersen led by five seconds and built on Mostert’s good work as he kept up a fast pace at the front. Murphy, Slade and Van Gisbergen were arguing over the next few places. Van Gisbergen moved up to third with a move on Slade but it was only temporary as Slade fought back and after battling for a couple of laps regained third.
Slade now had the pace, setting the fastest lap of the race as he closed on Murphy and passed him in spectacular fashion, the pair going side-by-side through a whole series of corners before the Australian prevailed. Right at the end Van Gisbergen put a lot of pressure on Murphy but could not quite get through. Baird took fifth ahead of the Jacobson-Emery car and Heimgartner was seventh.
So – three races, three different winners and then a fourth winner as Van Gisbergen and Davison were named overall round winners.
Race three: 1 Pedersen/Mostert; 2 Moore/Slade; 3 Murphy-Perkins; 4 Van Gisbergen-Davison; 5 Baird-Lockwood; 6 Jacobson-Emery; 7 Heimgartner-Morris; 8 Andy Booth-Shae Davies (Australia) Holden; 9 Eddie Bell (Christchurch)-Nick McBride (Australia) Ford; 10 Paul Manuell (Auckland)-John Penny (Auckland) Holden.