Yesterday’s indiscretions had to have consequences.
Will Davison wound up paying the penalty, but I can’t help but feel that the stewards listened more to the whinging of the so-called big names – Bright, Ingall and Murphy – complaining about the young-guns, than looking at the turn four incident objectively. Found guilty of reckless driving, Davison was deleted from Race One’s results, fined $5,000 on a suspended basis (no real money paid out as long as he keeps his nose clean for a period of time), and starts from the rear of the grid for today’s race two.
Race two wasn’t more than one turn old and a full course yellow was created by James Courtney being punted off heavily into the earth bank surrounding the track out of turn one. Shane Price followed along and T-boned Courtney putting a definite end to the race for both cars & drivers.
Once the race re-started, Lowndes settled into the lead, with Rick Kelly, Jamie Whincup, Garth Tander, Mark Skaife and Todd Kelly following along behind. The racing at the front was fast & furious, but highly professional. A sheer joy to follow. Around Lap 28 a blown drivers perspex window and rubber seal blew out of Steve Owen’s Commodore, landing right on the exit line for turn one. The stewards decided that was a danger to the field, so out came the safety car again.
The field bunched, but Lowndes was not to be headed. The two Toll/HSV cars wound up in positions two & three, with Jamie Whincup fourth. The two HRT cars followed across the line on lap 42. Yet again, it’s the drive and professionalism of the top three or four teams which really stands out. Mark Winterbottom, driving for Ford Performance Racing was a real standout, making up twenty places and taking out ten points. Positions at the end were:
Race three started with Lowndes leaping away from the front to establish a solid lead, although 0.68 seconds can hardly be called definitive. Car 17 of DJR with Steven Johnson driving managed to bump and grind it’s way into the pits before the compulsory pit stop to resolve a flat-spotted tyre problem. A sign of the times for Steven. I get the feeling that as good a driver as Steven is, his heart & mind aren’t really on the job to the same extent that his team mate Will Davison’s is.
Early in race three, Jamie Whincup had an engine oil cooler clamp let go which effectively reduced his weekend to a test session for round seven. The Triple Eight garage managed to get him back out, but once you have to leave a race for more than the CPS, your day is done. Lowndes, Kelly R. and Tander completed their CPS and managed to maintain position and pace throughout. Until Lap 19. Alan Gurr in the Irwin Tools Falcon had a slight altercation with Fabian Coulthard driving for the Paul Morris stable. The television coverage didn’t quite show intricate details, but the inference is one of Coulthard having nudged Gurr sufficiently hard enough at a point in the track where the car becomes unstable, to send it off into the earth bank in a violent and terminal manner. Safety car period ensued.
From the restart, we saw something which is rarely seen these days, but ought to be seen more, especially from the perspective of strategy. On Lap 25, Skaife committed to a pass on Mark Winterbottom which wasn’t all that well thought out. Contact ensued and Winterbottom was severely disadvantaged. Ordinarily, race stewards would have ordered a re-addressing of the positions between Skaife and Winterbottom, alternatively a pit lane penalty to Skaife for reckless driving. The latter would have been a shame, as Winterbottom was suffering from a flat-spotted rear tyre and poor rear handling anyway. Skaife, in consultation with his pit, decided to re-address the positional issue before the stewards got involved, thereby avoiding the race authorities becoming involved. Skaife knew he could take Winterbottom at any time, so the dropping back into sixth place didn’t harm his race. He took Winterbottom again two laps later. That’s professionalism, it’s excellent race strategy and the signs of a true master of the craft.
Lowndes led basically from start to finish. Then Kelly R., Tander, Kelly T., Skaife, Winterbottom, Davison, Richards S., Richards J. and Lee Holdsworth filled to top ten places. I for one am pleased to see Lee Holdsworth in the money. It’s well and truly deserved, both for the man himself, and for the team, Garry Rogers Motorsport, who put so much time, effort and money into bringing the younger drivers on. Championship points scores following Round Six stand as follows:
On other issues, it seems that Tony Cochran’s announcement that V8 Supercars may not be supporting the F1 Grand Prix hence forth has raised more than the odd hackle. It seems this announcement was made without reference to the Touring car Entrants Group of Australia (TEGA) which forms two-thirds of the board of V8 Supercars Australia. Cochran acted on his own and it hasn’t been appreciated. Clearly Cochran has been instrumental in the sealing of the Network Seven telecast contract and sees the Network Ten broadcasting of AFL into Adelaide as obstructive to his sport’s overall position. Equally clear is the insistence of his board that he not act without prior consent. The following statement issued from V8 Supercars Australia this afternoon:
MEDIA STATEMENT FROM V8 SUPERCARS AUSTRALIA CEO WAYNE CATTACH
“Tony Cochrane remains appointed the Chairman of V8 Supercars Australia until the end of 2007. Tony continues to have the very strong support of the V8 Supercar teams in his role as Chairman.
“He has every intention of continuing to play a strong role in the ongoing growth of the Championship in the immediate and foreseeable future.
“There is no agenda item listed for the next board meeting in relation to the position of Chairman of V8 Supercars Australia.”
The emphasis is mine. I wouldn’t be at all surprised that many on the board of V8SA are peeved in the extreme at Cochran’s arbitrary claims to a sport which isn’t his to make claims to. His removal as Chairman at the end of season 2007 may well be imminent.