1 May 2008 With the final outing for the Pinepac ITM Commodore at the recent Hamilton 400 meeting behind him driver Andrew Anderson still rates the weekends result as positive despite blotting his copy book in the new car by failing to finish the final race.
Approaching the weekend with an air of excitement it was quickly apparent that the much hyped build up was well justified once you stepped in to the venue. With minor finishing touches being applied on Thursday morning the streets of Hamilton had been transformed into a world class street circuit, full credit to the organizers, council and the Hamilton public for putting their hands up and having the vision for such an event.
Heading out on a sighting lap as the 28 car strong NZV8 field made the drive around to the pit area it was a teaser for what lay ahead when the cars were soon released for their test session. Having already studied the track extensively Anderson was surprised how quickly the corner sequence become second nature as he set about coming to grips with challenge ahead. ‘the first couple of laps certainly got your heart rate up, but I soon settled in and started to enjoy it’ commented Anderson on his first taste of the street circuit.
With a shortened test session Anderson felt that the car was well balanced and suited to the circuit and given more track time and a little more aggression the reward of improved lap times would be possible. Heading into qualifying later that afternoon Anderson was confident of making the final top 10 bracket, after initially easily getting through to the top 20 on used rubber Anderson just missed out on the final qualifying group ending up 13th fastest.
‘the new tyres certainly helped in the second group (top 20) but I didn’t push hard enough on them or use enough of the curbs, the car feels great and will race strong’ commented Anderson at the end of qualifying.
Race 1 held Saturday morning and with the confidence to move up the field Anderson got away cleanly in the bunch. On the approach to the chicane for the first time Anderson pinched the brakes and locked the rears resulting in the Pinepac ITM Commodore looping around and going backwards down the track. Releasing the brakes and running the car backwards down the track Anderson came to rest against nudging the wall, but able to rejoin at the tail of the field.
With an early safety car period bunching the field, Anderson was soon making a charge up the grid as light rain began to fall. With only 6 laps of the scheduled 14 lap race under their belt the organizers halted the race as steady rain continued to fall on the circuit aware that the cars had started on slick dry tyres, at this stage Anderson had already managed to climb back up into 16th place. ‘It was getting slippery out there and stopping was the right call, the spin did more damage to my pride than the car’ commented Anderson post race.
With improved conditions later that afternoon Race 2 was held in dry conditions and getting away at the start from 12th position Anderson was soon in the grove as he pressed forward and up the grid. On the challenging street circuit the NZV8′s went flag to flag over the 18 lap distance with no caution period and although suffering with brake fade towards the end of the race Anderson had worked his way forward to have the Pinepac ITM Commodore up to 8th place at the finish and 2nd Holden.
‘that’s the longest single run we have had on the track and you really got a great feel for the circuit by the end of it, the car is great so bring on the next one’ comment Anderson post race.
For the final race of the weekend held on Sunday the traditional full reverse grid race format had been dropped, sighting the tightness of the circuit as the reason. Lining up in 11th place at the start Anderson got underway cleanly and on the approach to the turn 2 Holden Hairpin was handily placed. Getting squeezed around the turn Anderson was aware that the steering on the Pinepac ITM Commodore had received a knock with the wheel now off centre slightly. Pressing on Anderson completed the opening lap and was confident all was well.
Over the opening stages of the race, the Pinepac ITM Commodore was making ground on the top 10 and showing good pace early in the race. With 5 laps in the books Anderson approached the now infamous back straight double chicane and clipped the inside tyre bundle. The result of the impact further damaged the steering on the Pinepac ITM Commodore which now compromised the cars turn-in ability so Anderson toured back to the pits and retired from the race.
‘I rode the 2nd curb but straight-lined the 3rd one too much and collected the tyre bundle, it’s a shame as the car felt great and I felt I could have finished inside the top 5′ commented Anderson from pit lane. Although disappointed to watch the laps unfold on the side lines Anderson was positive about the pace the Pinepac ITM Commodore showed over the weekend and the latter part of the NZV8 Championship and looks forward to putting a solid assault together for next season.
Andrew Anderson would like to thank the entire Pinepac Racing team, AV8 Motorsport and his partners who have supported his Touring Car campaign this season.