Saturday, August 12, 2006
TASMAN Motorsport's Jason Richards has started his weekend strongly at Oran Park in today's opening race of the seventh round of the V8 Supercar Series in Sydney.
The New Zealander qualified for his fourth straight Top 10 Shootout at the Narellan venue earlier in the day to earn the fifth starting position for the opening 38-lap race of the weekend.
Having settled into fourth spot in the early stages behind Mark Skaife, Todd Kelly and pole man Jason Bright, Richards held his own until making his compulsory pit stop for tyres on lap seven.
A slow pit stop with a delayed change on the left rear tyre dropped him down the order when he re-joined and once all cars had pitted he wound up back in seventh.
Leader Skaife retired with gearbox problems and Garth Tander pitted with a smoking Commodore, allowing Richards to move the Firepower Commodore into fifth position.
He held the spot up until the last lap when passed by former team-mate Jamie Whincup, though a sixth place was a strong way to start the three-race format weekend.
Team-mate Andrew Jones managed to improve greatly over his qualifying performance. The 26-year-old qualified 25th but brought home the #23 car in 17th spot.
Tomorrow's racing will feature the final reverse grid race for the 2006 series in addition to a third 58-lap race to round out the weekend.
Jason Richards (#3 Firepower/Tasman Motorsport Commodore VZ)
"I had sweat pouring into my eyes and it was fairly stinging in the final few laps. I made a mistake trying to carry a bit much speed into turn three on the last lap and Whincup got by. Apart from that, the pit stop wasn't that great so we were fortunate to get back up to where we finished. The pace was almost as good as the lead cars, probably on par with the FPR car of Bright. But it's a great start to the weekend."
Andrew Jones (#23 Firepower/Tasman Motorsport Commodore VZ)
"The rear tyres were completely gone by the end of the race. It was very hard to get any drive out of the corners and improve my position any further. I made up a few spots at one stage during the race when there was a bit of a melee in front of me and we passed a few on the track. Once again, the car was consistent across the full race distance but just lacking the pace to begin with. Making up eight spots is a positive way to start the weekend but we want more tomorrow."
Race 1 Results - Round 7, V8 Supercar Championship Series - Oran Park Raceway, Sydney, New South Wales
1. Todd Kelly, #22 HRT Commodore VZ
2. Craig Lowndes, #888 Betta Falcon BA
3. Rick Kelly, #15 Toll HSV DT Commodore VZ
4. Jason Bright, #6 CAT Falcon BA
5. Jamie Whincup, #88 Betta Falcon BA
6. Jason Richards, #3 Firepower Commodore VZ
7. Mark Winterbottom, #5 FPR Falcon BA
8. Steven Richards, #7 Jack Daniel's Commodore VZ
9. James Courtney, #4 Jeld-Wen Falcon BA
10. Steven Johnson, #17 First Rock Falcon BA
17. Andrew Jones, #23 Firepower Commodore VZ