In today's Race 2 of Round 5 of the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Championship, Chris Pither gave Kanga Loaders their first top three race finish for the year, Chris' highest race finish in the category
Together with the points he picked up for a top 10 finish in the 28-lap Race 3, it made for a very solid day for the youthful Kiwi, elevating him to 11th in the Championship.
In what is very much a learning year for Pither, he had this to say on his weekend's efforts: "The points I picked up today have really driven home to me that I have to finish every race - and that I can't make the sort of mistake I made in Race 1."
Race 1 (16 laps):
Grid: 1 Price, 2 Macrow, 3 Perkins, 4 Porter, 5 D'Alberto, 6 Denyer, 7 Pretty, 8 Scott, 9 Alajajian, 10 Youlden, 13 Pither
Pither's good start got the Kanga Loaders Falcon up to 10th by turn 1, but was forced to go around the outside of Youlden on turn 3, losing the battle down the straight, leaving Chris 11th. That battle continued on the second lap, with the Kanga Loaders Falcon on the outside of Youlden into the turn 5 hairpin.
For the next couple of laps, Youlden was obviously being held up by Denyer, so Chris was attacking his rear bumper. The two of them slipped by Denyer, who appeared to miss a gear.
On lap 5 Pither got the power down early out of turn 3, giving a good run onto the straight, where he passed Youlden, claiming 8th.
The battle with Youlden continued until lap 9, when Youlden gave the Kanga car a really good hit up the rear, tearing off some of the rear bar. Pither did an heroic job just keeping the car on the tarmac, and also managed to retain his position.
Over the next four laps Denyer had gathered things up and was mounting a challenge on Pither.
On lap 13 things came unstuck while Pither was trying to ward off Denyer's challenge. In Chris's words: "I went to the inside of the track [off the normal racing line] into turn 7 to keep Denyer out. I braked early, but the track is dirty there, causing the wheels to lock up, and I ended up in the dirt."
Pither managed to get the Kanga Loaders Falcon out of the dirt and rejoined the field in position 21, where he stayed until the chequered flag.
Race 1 Results: 1 Macrow, 2 Price, 3 Perkins, 4 Alajajian, 5 Porter, 6 Pretty, 7 D'Alberto, 8 Denyer, 9 Clark, 10 La Delle, 21 Pither
Race 2 (16 laps - reverse grid):
Start Position: 8th
Another great start from Pither in the Kanga Loaders Falcon, gaining three positions by turn 1. Chris also avoided the major panel rubbing that occurred the first time the cars went through turn 5.
Pither picked up another place on lap 2, for 4th, where he stayed 'til lap 11, when he came from a long way behind Verdnik in the straight leading to turn 7 and stuck it up the inside, surprising Verdnik, who gave chase for the next lap, but couldn't match the speed of the Kanga Loaders Falcon.
Along the way to achieving his highest race finish in the Fujitsu V8 Supercar series, Pither set the 4th fastest lap time in what will be the last reverse grid race for 2006 and perhaps the last full reverse grid in the category as for season 2007 only the first 10 cars will have their start positions reversed.
Race 2 Results: 1 Scott, 2 Youlden, 3 Pither, 4 Verdnik, 5 Thompson, 6 Clark, 7 Porter, 8 La Delle, 9 Perkins, 10 Price.
Race 3 (28 laps):
Start Position: 17th
Pither diced with Youlden for the first lap, but lost that battle, Youlden's car showing real pace on new tyres.
On lap 9 the Kanga Loaders Falcon easily got by Evangelou. After that, the only event of note occurred on lap 16 when Scott spun in front of Pither, but had sufficient pace to retain his position.
Apart from that it was a pretty lonely race for Chris, but a gain of seven positions over the race was a good result. Also, the car was definitely on the pace, which bodes well for Bathurst - where horsepower really counts.
Race Results: 1 Macrow, 2 Price, 3 Porter, 4 Caruso, 5 Pretty, 6 Thompson, 7 Verdnik, 8 Scott, 9 McNally, 10 Pither.