The #4 IRWIN Racing team has had a heartbreaking start to their Armor All Gold Coast 600 campaign with a massive multi-car accident putting Simon Pagenaud and Lee Holdsworth out of the race before they had even left the starting grid.
With all teams opting to start the 102 lap race with international co-drivers in the driver’s seat, it was soon evident that their inexperience in starting a V8 Supercar race would lead to carnage, as it has done in past races on the Gold Coast street circuit.
Pagenaud was left with a swollen wrist and a grazed finger, and the IRWIN Falcon sustained significant damage. It is, however, expected to be fixed overnight and be back out on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
After a long delay due to cars and debris being removed from the track, the re-start played out in similar fashion to the first. A second accident occurred and even more cars crashing out before the drivers had even reached the first corner.
Just 22 cars lined up on the grid for the third start, but the race took its toll with four more cars becoming victims of the concrete jungle and not finishing the race. A total of ten cars did not finish Race 22.
The #47 Lucky 7 Racing team and the #9 SP Tools Racing team had luck on their side today with both co-drivers, David Brabham and Jeroen Bleekemolen, managing to avoid all the race start carnage and get through their stints with their cars in one piece.
For the Tim Slade and Brabham the race played out almost flawlessly and with a strong race car they had relatively good pace. They finished the race in 5th position, putting to bed the team’s recent string of 7th places.
While the SP Tools Falcon got off to a good start a controversial drive through penalty imposed on Bleekemolen on lap nine for overuse of kerb, saw the team drop back down the race order. When Shane van Gisbergen took over driving he found himself stuck back in the pack and unable to gain any ground. They finished today’s race in 10th position.
The two re-starts meant that the race was shortened to 79 laps, 23 laps short of the scheduled 102.
Car #4 IRWIN Racing:
Lee Holdsworth – “That’s what happens when all the international drivers start the race. It wasn’t Simon’s fault, he got a ripper start. But a few of the guys up the front got shockers as they are not used to starting these cars.”
“Tonio Liuzzi was a slowing car after colliding with another car and it left Simon with nowhere to go.”
Simon Pagenaud – “I’m OK, just really annoyed to see how much damage there is on the car. Unfortunately doing standing starts with guys that are not used to it is creating issues every year. It’s a shame but starting where we did we got into trouble.
“I had no room to go – that’s the way it is – that’s racing. It’s a shame for the IRWIN crew and Lee as well, so I’m sorry about that, but there is nothing else I could have done.”
Car #9 SP Tools Racing:
Shane van Gisbergen – “I am disappointed that Jeroen got a drive through penalty today. We don’t deny he was cutting the chicane but it showed him once doing it. Everyone was doing it, it’s just that we got picked out of the bunch. We got penalised, now warning, straight drive through.”
“So that put us off the eight ball. We tried a different strategy and we had better tyres but once you are in the pack you can’t do anything, you are just going with what everyone else is doing. It’s tough to pass around here so we couldn’t do anything.”
“It was a bit of a battle with our car and we didn’t have any pace compared to the other cars. It’s frustrating because we were driving really hard but came in 10th. So we’ll do some work overnight and see where we can improve for tomorrow’s race.”
Jeroen Bleekemolen – “I had some pretty good starts, the first one was not so good, but the second and third were really good. I was really fighting my way up and the pace was alright, I was just trying to conserve fuel. I think we were quite competitive.”
“Then we got a drive through penalty which was a bit funny because they switched over the system for cutting (the kerb) so everyone went a lot more over the kerbs in qualifying. So I thought that I could take more and more as well and then we didn’t get a warning – just straight away a penalty.”
“I was unlucky but the pace afterwards was still good and we still managed to get it back into the top 10. Shane managed to do a really good second stint and overtook some cars.”
“The race was a lot of fun and I had some really good fights. I did many laps today and I think I drove more than half the race which will definitely help me tomorrow. I will know what the car is like on heavy fuel, on low fuel, on old tyres and on new tyres, so that will help me a lot.”
Car #47 Lucky 7 Racing:
Tim Slade – “Brabs got off to a great start each time. That’s one of the positives to qualifying reasonable strongly is that you avoid a lot of that carnage off the start, even though some of it started unfolding right in front of Brabs.”
“He had a super strong start to the race and stayed out of trouble. We pitted a bit earlier and then he worked his way back through the field and handed it to me in a really strong position.”
“The car was good, it just needed to be a little bit better in one particular area. It was a bit unfortunate when the FPR car broke it’s steering because Brabs was caught on the wrong side of that and we lost four or five seconds. ”
“We were sort of coming at Tander there at the end but just ran out of laps. We just have to make sure we can qualify towards the front again tomorrow. 5th if by far my best result here at the Gold Coast which is really pleasing, we just need to find a little bit more pace to be up with the front guys.”
David Brabham – “Each of my starts were ok and a couple of times I had parked cars in front of me which I had to try and avoid. So for me, having to restart each time you kind of get use to starting these cars when we don’t do it all year. Obviously there were some pretty bad accidents because of it and I’m just please to hear that everyone is ok.”
“Once we got into a rhythm I felt the car was very strong very early. I just wanted to try and control the tyre and I didn’t want to over use it. When an opportunity came I’d get past people and it was a pretty solid stint. The car was in pretty good shape so the guys did a great job giving us a good race car.”
“I’m feeling more confident going into tomorrow’s race. It’s a good strong result from 11th to 5th in a race like this and once Tim got in he was very fast. He was able to put some pressure on other people and come home in 5th, so it was a really great result for the team.”
Team Principal – Ross Stone: “It’s always hard to get these cars off the line and when you have all the co-drivers starting it wasn’t a real surprise that something was going to happen. We had practice starts the other day at Queensland Raceway, and for a lot of the guys it was the first time they had even done a standing start. Simon got away clean, but got tied-up in someone else’s mess.”
“I really didn’t think the car would be running tomorrow and it was onto the next round at Abu Dhabi. But my brother Jimmy and the crew had a good look at things and they are confident that it will be repaired for tomorrow. It will be a late night, but the boys will get stuck straight into it.”
Armor All Gold Coast 600 Race 22 – RESULTS:
1 1 TeamVodafone J.Whincup/S.Bourdais 01:45:10.0919
2 19 Tekno Autosports J.Webb/M.Lieb 01:45:10.5566
3 5 Orrcon Steel FPR Ford M.Winterbottom/W.Power 01:45:11.1812
4 2 Holden Racing Team G.Tander/R.Briscoe 01:45:22.3130
5 47 Lucky 7 Racing T.Slade/D.Brabham 01:45:23.0467
6 888 TeamVodafone C.Lowndes/R.Lyons 01:45:24.7175
7 22 Holden Racing Team J.Courtney/D.Turner 01:45:27.2413
8 15 Jack Daniel’s Racing R.Kelly/G.Rahal 01:45:31.6639
9 66 Supercheap Auto Racing R.Ingall/P.Dumbreck 01:45:32.1679
10 9 SP Tools Racing S.Van Gisbergen/J.Bleekemolen 01:45:32.6824
DNF 4 Irwin Racing Simon Pagenaud
Armor All Gold Coast 600 Qualifying/Top Ten Shootout – RESULTS:
1 1 TeamVodafone Jamie Whincup 1:11.6478
2 6 Trading Post FPR Ford Will Davison 1:11.8730
3 15 Jack Daniel’s Racing Rick Kelly 1:11.8841
4 34 Fujitsu Racing GRM Michael Caruso 1:11.9581
5 19 Tekno Autosports Jonathon Webb 1:11.9582
6 5 Orrcon Steel FPR Ford Mark Winterbottom 1:11.9823
7 14 Lockwood Racing Fabian Coulthard 1:12.1900
8 3 Team Hiflex Tony D’Alberto 1:12.2253
9 22 Holden Racing Team James Courtney 1:12.4361
10 9 SP Tools Racing Shane Van Gisbergen 1:27.0601
11 47 Lucky 7 Racing Tim Slade 1:11.8249
16 4 Irwin Racing Lee Holdsworth 1:12.0095