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The first round of the 2021 Supercars Championship season kicked into high gear today as teams took to Mount Panorama for the first qualifying session and race of the new year. Penrite Racing and NED Whisky Racing had mixed results in yesterday’s practice as the team continued to refine its Ford Mustang package as new team members Dave Reynolds and engineer Alistair McVean settle into the team.
This morning the team went straight into a 20-minute qualifying session for today’s 250km sprint race. With track conditions once again very different from Friday’s Practice it posed a big challenge to both the drivers and engineers, particularly given that major changes couldn’t be made during the short session. The top-ten cars from qualifying would then advance to a top-ten shootout.
Dave Reynolds noted that his Penrite Racing Mustang had good balance and was quite quick but ultimately lacked the speed to be at the pointy end. A perfect lap could have yielded a position around P10, but a couple of minor niggles meant Dave had to settle for P13 and miss the shootout.
André Heimgartner was a little less satisfied with the balance of his car, with the NED Whisky Mustang lacking rear stability. Ultimately it was only quick enough for P14 on the grid – alongside Dave for the start of the race.
The NED Whisky Racing driver had an excellent start to the race, firing up to P11 by the second corner. Dave didn’t have such luck, with his car almost stalling at the race start – he had slid back to P18 by the first corner.
Fortunately Dave was able to take an alternate race strategy and stop early, putting his Penrite Mustang into clean air and allowing him to push forward. In the second stint Dave pressed on and enjoyed a few exciting battles and finish the race P9.
André’s luck took a turn after an excellent first stint which saw him run as high as P8. After his second pit stop the NED Racing driver had a spin on cold tyres and made an unsafe re-join to the track. He was issued a drive-through penalty which put him at the back of the field. André was fortunate to salvage P15 at the finish line.
The team is now looking forward to improving the cars and reflecting on today’s events ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying and race.
André Heimgartner, Driver, #7 NED Whisky Racing
“Overall today has been kind of positive in some ways, but unfortunately a few things went wrong, there was the bingle at the start with Courtney with him bumping me off and then the mistake by me rejoining, got a drive through penalty. The fact we finished 15th after all of that is a bit of a blessing all things considered.”
“There were a lot of other people that didn’t finish or had incidents which is unfortunate, so for us to walk away with that result after the race we had was kind of lucky.”
“We’ll now move on, obviously reflect on things and look at what we can do better and aim for a much better result tomorrow. The car wasn’t too bad, we had good pace early on and probably should have finished pretty comfortably in the top-ten, so if we can improve the areas we were lacking we’ll be good.”
David Reynolds, Driver, #26 Penrite Racing
“Obviously that was the worst race start I’ve ever had in my entire life, the car almost stalled, so I was effectively almost last by turn one which was horrific but then we pitted early, we went massively off strategy which does effect your end result but it helped us get track position and try and find a nice rhythm at the front.”
“Then we had to pit and take on more fuel than expected, the safety car timing didn’t really help us, but the car was pretty good to drive and I was having some good battles which was fun. The car ultimately wasn’t quite fast enough and we need to work on the balance and make it a bit easier to drive.”
“But really happy as our first hit out as a team, for me it was quite unsuccessful obviously with the terrible start, but despite that we still managed to finish ninth so I’m confident we’re heading in the right direction.”
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