Apr 222007

A sad way to leave Pukekohe for the V8 Supercar circus, but even sadder is the way race three of this weekend’s round three event in New Zealand was run in concert with, and undoubtedly controlled by, television programming.

Due to family commitments unavoidable, Bannerman missed race two of this weekends three heat round at Pukekohe, New Zealand. Judging from qualifying, race one yesterday and race three today, it’s a round that some teams will be glad won’t be seeing the Pukekohe race circuit again in the future. Next years New Zealand round will be run on the streets of Hamilton, but that’s for 2008.
For 2007, Pukekohe produced it’s usual mix of tight-course, close racing among the top six to eight cars, while the remainder of the field had individual scraps or simply struggled to stay on the tight, bumpy track. Pukekohe is a very tight 2.8km circuit located 40klms south from Auckland. The V8’s run a lap in sub-1 minute times which leaves no room for positioning errors and absolutely no margin for pitlane stuff-ups. Given that the trip down pitlane from limiter line to limiter line takes 41 seconds, any compulsory pitstop of more than five seconds means your race is run.
Having missed race two, Bannerman won’t attempt to comment on the three heats. Suffice to say that Rick Kelly came away with the round win, taking out race three, with third places in races one and two. His team mate, Garth Tander, had an exceptional weekend, until race three. He took out races one and two, but lost race three in the pits with a jammed rear wheel locknut which cost valuable seconds more than he could afford, leaving him to come home eighth at the end of the day.
The Fords didn’t exactly have a fun weekend, with Jamie Whincup (Triple Eight Racing) probably vying with James Courtney (Stone Brothers Racing) for the honour of best Ford on the weekend. Courtney showed conclusively that he had some enormous pace during qualifying, but in the tight, extremely bumpy Pukekohe circuit, the Falcons just didn’t have enough squirt to tackle the ‘dunny-doors’. At a place like Pukie it’s all about handling. All the results and blow-by-blows are at the V8 Supercars website, reader. Apologies for missing the crucial second race, but sometimes family has to come first.
There was one very disturbing result from this weekend’s round and that was the performance of the Seven Network in the presentation of round three. Granted, this weekend’s round was run in a country which is two hours ahead of east coast Australia, which allows the television network to record the action and replay two hours after the fact, however it’s very disturbing to note, especially from a fan perspective, that race three this arvo was run deliberately to suit Channel Seven’s programming schedule in Oz. Race three was plagued with two safety car periods due to a bingle between Brad Jones (Team BOC) and Paul ‘Captain Crash’ Morris (Sirromet Wines) which really wasn’t Morris’s fault; followed later by a self-incurred meeting with the tyre barriers for Dean Canto (Garry Rogers Motorsport). The latter’s off-track excursion resulted in his car being unserviceable in a bad spot so out came the pace car for the second time. It was only at this point in the final race, with ten laps to run, did we discover that the entire event was being run to a strict timetable, with race three to be completed by 2:45pm AEST, allowing 15 minutes for podium presentations, champagne showers and the usual wrap-up postmortum bullshit from Crompton & co. Ten laps turned into a one-lap sprint once the Canto debris was cleared away and the race finished a good six laps short of actual distance.
Clearly, race two had been recorded from earlier in the New Zealand day and race three was live. Seven had planned on a trouble free race with a nice neat wind-up of all the palava by 3:00pm AEST so they could then run the aerial ping-pong coverage from ‘The G’. This is an extremely disturbing turn of events for Bannerman, and no doubt every other avid V8 Supercar enthusiast across the country. This is exactly the type of stunt Channel Seven would pull when they last held the television rights to motorsport. Events planned around subsequent programming, especially that uniquely peculiar game of football which allows a player to be out of bounds holding the ball in-bounds and play on. In the eighties and early nineties, Network Seven was renown for touting it’s motorsport coverage while purposely inflicting timed race events on the motorsport fraternity, specifically designed to suit the football events on either side of the motor racing. It’s not good enough, Seven Network!! You cannot go around claiming you’re showing more live motorsport than ever before, as you’re doing at every event, and then bring the guillotine down on an event when the probability of it finishing 15 minutes late suddenly arises due to unforeseen circumstances.
Bannerman will be having much more to say on this issue. Email to Network Seven programming bods going off right away!

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