Toll HSV Holden Commodore drivers won all three races and finished first and second for the V8 Supercar round at Pukekohe.
Kelly wins Pukekohe V8 round
April 22, 2007, 7pm. Rick Kelly won a shortened third V8 Supercar race at Pukekohe this afternoon.
The race was shortened to meet television scheduling commitments.
The original race had been scheduled to start at 3pm and finish at 3.45, but two incidents – both involving deployment of the Safety Car (for a total of nine laps) – meant there was no time to get the 43 laps completed by 3.45pm.
By the time the Safety Car left the track, it was 3.44 which left enough time for a one-lap sprint to the flag.
There was confusion among the V8 teams about when the race would end. It’s understood they’d been told it was a “timed race” which had to finish by a specified time even if all the scheduled laps hadn’t been completed.
But an error in published regulations had stated 16.45 instead of 15.45 hours; team managers were told of the 15.45 (3.45pm) finish during the final Safety Car period.
The final race win gave Kelly equal points for the weekend with his Toll HSV Holden Commodore teammate Garth Tander who won the first two of the three races.
The Race 3 victory gave Kelly the round win on a countback.
Vodafone Ford Falcon driver Jamie Whincup was third on points for the weekend.
Kelly now goes to the Winton, Victoria, round 13 points ahead of Tander, the same margin he came to Pukekohe with.
Tander had taken a one-point lead over Kelly after winning Race 2 earlier today.
Had Tander successfully completed a pass on Team Kiwi Racing Ford Falcon driver Paul Radisich on what became the final lap he would have had enough points to take the round win.
But Tander’s hopes of a third win – and his second successive round win – had already been dealt a body blow during his compulsory pitstop. He had gone into the pits in the race lead.
He says he heard one rattle gun go to change a wheel, but didn’t hear the other.
Whatever happened – some say a wheelnut got stuck – he dropped from the lead of the race to ninth after all drivers had completed their pitstops.
Rick Kelly now led, from brother Todd, James Courtney, Craig Lowndes, Whincup, Will Davison, Radisich, Russell Ingall and Tander.
The top seven didn’t change again and the drivers crossed the line in that order, followed by Tander, Mark Skaife (HRT Holden), and Ingall.
After the pitstops, Tander had worked his way on to the back of Radisich’s Ford, and trailed the all-black car when the race went green with a lap to run.
He closed on Radisich on the run to the hairpin, pushing hard to find a way past; but Radisich resisted and held on to cross the line seventh.
Tander said later his pitstop had just “taken too long. I think it was a jammed wheelnut.”
He said he’d had to cope with “some pretty average driving” on the way through the field after his pitstop.
“We knew we had to get past Paul (Radisich) to claim the win outright, but I wasn’t aware it was going to be a one-lap dash at the end there.
“I thought it was going to be eight laps and I’d have a crack at (Radisich in that time).
“I was surprised when I came over the line to see the chequered flag.
“If (I had known it was the last lap) I would have had a bigger go at Paul than I did.”
Seventh-placed Radisich as the best-placed Kiwi, with Greg Murphy (Tasman Motorsport Holden) 11th, and Fabian Coulthard (Sirromet Commodore) 20th.
Jason Richards came home 18th in the second Tasman Commodore after driving through from the back of the grid.
NZ-born Steven Richards was 12th in the FPR Castrol Ford falcon.
Rick Kelly now leads the championship with 173 points. Tander is on 160, Todd Kelly on 132, Whincup on 104, mark Skaife on 104, and James Courtney on 100.
Photograph of Rick Kelly at Pukekohe by Graham Blow.
Final race incidents
April 22, 2007, 7pm. The incidents that delayed the final V8 race were a major crash involving Paul Morris and a slide into the barrier at the top of the hill by Dean Canto.
Neither driver was hurt, and both incidents triggered Safety Car periods.
Morris (Commodore) and Brad Jones (Falcon) tangled after Morris passed him in the left-hander after the hairpin.
Morris’ car was pitched into the Armco barrier and rolled twice landing upside down on the track.
Morris said: “I passed Brad around the outside of the left-hander and gave him heaps of room.
“Then I was hit in the rear and the next thing I knew I was upside down.
“It wasn’t real flash hanging upside down with your car running along on its roof.
“It wasn’t a big impact. I was waiting for the big crunch but it never came.
“I feel okay but the car is a real mess. We won’t know how bad it is until we look at it closely.”
Scary ride for Jason
April 22, 2007, 7pm. Tasman Motorsport driver Jason Richards had a scary, top-speed, head-on ride into the tyre barrier at the end of Pukekohe’s back straight in the first of today’s two V8 Supercar races.
The MTA Holden Commodore VE’s left front suspension failed as Richards tore down the straight at 275km/h.
“I hit the brake, and (the suspension) broke,” he said. “I was just a passenger.
“I’ve been in a race here where someone has been killed at the same spot, and I don’t mind saying I thought I was going to die.
“It was frightening, I had absolutely no control (over the car)."