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Sports/Touring Car Racing Topics:  Armor All Gold Coast 600


Stone Brothers Racing
October 22, 2011

Stone Brothers Racing’s (SBR) smooth run at the Gold Coast 600 looked like it was going to be ended with the start of race one today, with all three SBR Falcons encountering dramas in the opening stint of the 300km race. But it wasn’t all bad news, with a typical SBR fight-back saving some respectable results considering the hindrances they were challenged with.

With most teams opting to have its international co-drivers start the race – including SBR – German Marc Lieb in the #4 IRWIN Racing car was first to feel the wrath of the Surfers Paradise street-circuit, being punted off by Brit Richard Lyons on lap 13 causing considerable damage to the IRWIN Falcon. A very second-hand looking #4 required a very long service in the pits, during which the SBR crew worked frantically to straighten out the car and get Lieb back into the race – which they finally achieved, but not before 23 laps had passed. Lieb remained in the driver’s seat for the majority race to gain some more valuable seat-time in preparation for tomorrow’s second race. With Alex Davison at the wheel for the final 26 laps, the #4 IRWIN Falcon pushed on and eventually crossed the line in 23rd place. It was a big blow to the #4 crew after a promising qualifying performance saw them start today’s race from fourth place on the grid.

After earlier making the top ten shootout and starting from eighth place on the grid, Emanuele Pirro in the #9 SP Tools Falcon also had a tough start to his day at the wheel after being judged to have over-stepped his starting mark on the grid – a blight on his otherwise brilliant stint today. As a result, a ten-second penalty was issued to car #9 which was served on lap 34 when Pirro pitted for the regulation driver change. With Shane van Gisbergen at the wheel, debris build up on his tyres led him to believe that there may be a problem with his wheels resulting in another unscheduled pitstop, which in-turn sent the SP Tools Falcon down a lap. ‘The Giz’ fought back though in classic style, and with the help of some well-timed Safety Car periods managed to climb his way back onto the lead lap with 40-laps to go. From 21st place van Gisbergen chased down the leaders eventually running as high as eighth place but with fading tyre-life he slipped back to 16th in the closing stages. Tyres weren’t van Gisbergen’s only drama today, with the young-gun having to battle extreme cabin temperatures for the majority of his stint due to a failing cool suit – but his tenacious mind-set saw him rise to the challenge where other drivers would have given up.

Car #47’s rough day started in qualifying when a surprise rain shower ruined the session before Tim Slade managed to get a flying-lap in. Forced to start the race from 24th on the grid, Helio Castroneves had a big task ahead of him, which was made all the worse by ‘long’ brake pedal which also required an early pitstop. Castroneves didn’t give up though and pushed on to get the Lucky 7 Falcon back in the game before handing over to Tim Slade on lap 48. Castroneves’ drive was a stellar performance considering his very short time in a V8 Supercar, and was consistently posting lap-times faster than some of the Championship’s full-time drivers. With a Safety Car called for an errant chicane-bollard playing into #47’s strategy, Slade found himself back in the game in third place but a faulty gear-position sensor hindered his run, ultimately causing him to slide down the ranks to tenth before a final stop for fresh tyres and fuel. Slade finished the testing race in a very credible 12th place.

SBR’s Falcons return to the streets of Surfers Paradise tomorrow at 10.45am for another round of qualifying, followed by the second and final 300km race at 1.40pm.

Tim Slade – Driver, Lucky 7 Racing car #47

“We had a really strong car today but we were caught out by the rain in qualifying. I went out to bed in the brakes and had done two laps and was about to come in for my set of greens before the rain came in. It felt like that everything that could go wrong for us today did. Helio did an amazing job out there before a brake problem caused him to pit early – we fought back but then we had the issue with the gear-position sensor which made any further progress impossible. Overall though we have a strong car and will bounce back tomorrow.”

Helio Castroneves (Brazil) – Co-Driver, Lucky 7 Racing car #47

“Definitely a tough day. We got caught out in qualifying with the rain so we started 24th and then during the race I had an issue with the brakes which sent us to the back of the field but we were able to fight our way back into the top five but then unfortunately in Tim’s stint he had an electrical issue and 12th was where we finished. To be honest if you told me we would finish 12th at the start of the race I would have said that would be a good result. We have a good platform for tomorrow so I’m really looking forward to it again.”

Shane van Gisbergen – Driver, SP Tools Racing car #9

“No cool suit made it an even tougher gig today. I was joking with the boys on the radio asking them where the air-conditioner switch was – they told me it was in my Falcon at home! We fought back but eventually my tyres went off and there was nothing left in the last few laps.”

Emanuele Pirro (Italy) – Co-Driver, SP Tools Racing car #9

“This has been a really good learning day for me. Apart from the unfortunate penalty I incurred for over-stepping the start mark – which is a very avoidable thing that I am not happy about – I’m pleased with the racing I did today and I brought the car back in for Shane in one piece and in P6 which was beyond my expectations being the first time here and racing for a whole season prior. I think we did well today considering and am happy knowing we will start tomorrow with a good car. On a personal level I really enjoyed today and am having a lot of fun.”

Alex Davison – Driver, IRWIN Racing car #4

“We had a really good qualifying car today – the car was really strong, it felt the best it’s been in a while. It was unfortunate for Marc though that there are other international drivers out there who forgot what their job was and thought they were fighting for a Championship. Today was the one that got away but on a positive note we know we have a good car and will be back to give it another shot tomorrow.”

Marc Lieb (Germany), Co-Driver, IRWIN Racing car #4

“My start wasn’t very good and we lost a few positions but we had good pace and were able to keep up but a few cars held us up and we ended up in a traffic jam basically. Then other guys started to try and dive up the inside where there was no room and I lost another few positions before Richard Lyons hit me under braking at the last corner and that was really the end of our day. It was very disappointing for Alex and the team because my lap times were good and I found my rhythm out there but it was ended too soon.”

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