May 102008
 

Qualifying and Race 1

After watching PanelBeaters last night and viewing qualifying today, it’s pretty easy to understand why drivers like Barbagallo.

I think, unless the WA Sporting Car Club can arrange the finance to upgrade facilities to accommodate the ever more demanding Supercar circus, it’s highly likely we’ll not see the circus in WA next season unless the State government comes to the party or builds a multi-purpose motorsport facility. Apparently, it’s not the circuit or track surface at risk of losing the circus. It’s the facilities behind the fence. Those who read the post during the week about the size of transporters these days will understand the demands V8 Supercars places on circuit owners and track facilities.

But for this season at least, Barbagallo is the place to be this weekend. Small, tight and challenging with it’s off-camber corners, up-hill and down-dale topography, even the new star of the circus, Garth Tander, was making serious mistakes. Qualifying was it’s usual mix of intense boredom until the last session where the top ten fastest run off for final position on the grid. I don’t really understand why the top ten fastest get two goes at being quickest, but I guess the Network Seven producers do.

Good to see a Ford on pole, albeit by a mere four hundredths of a second from the first of two HRT Commodores. Good also to see 19 year old Shane Van Gisbergen of Stone Brothers Racing in the fastest mob again. Skaife did well to hold second spot, but like golf – drive for show, putt for dough – to really silence his critics, he’ll need to win this weekend, and more than once, convincingly.

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Race one began as a number of races have begun this season. With a debacle for some of the mid-field runners before the first lap was over.

Once the stupidity was done with, the race settled into a rhythm. Mark Winterbottom, in the Ford Performance Racing Falcon was never headed, even after the pitstop window closed. Tander & Skaife argued somewhat frantically over the first corner, suddenly realising that both were in the same team, with Tander giving way to his boss. Then came Steven Richards in the second of FPR’s cars, Craig Lowndes for Triple Eight Racing, Rick Kelly in the first of HSV’s Commodores, then Jamie Whincup in the second of Triple Eight’s cars. A drive of a truly determined man, from position 22 to finish seventh. He was followed by Will Davison, Todd Kelly and Cameron McConville, who struggled home in tenth with a car suffering a severely flat-spotted right front tyre. Some very good and close racing was had, and while hardly a spectacle, race one was entertaining.

One point of note, and something I find a little disquieting from within the Network Seven commentary team, was the focus placed on Mark Skaife’s performance. From last night’s PanelBeaters, where the issue of criticism of Skaife’s lack of success over recent seasons was canvassed, allowing Skaife a platform to dismiss media attention, to today’s concentration on his second place. Especially so from Matthew White on the commentary team. To the extent of making a point of highlighting Skaife’s race as a ‘top three finish’. Now, I’m a Ford fan, but I can also appreciate good car craft when I see it. I didn’t see much of it between Tander & Skaife at race start, yet no critique from White. In fact, bugger all from Crompton either. I’d be willing to bet that had Skaife finished fourth, he’d have been lauded for a top five finish. Sixth and praised for a top ten finish. It’s all a little transparent.