On the back of his best season round result at Timaru the week earlier, Pinepac Racing driver Andrew Anderson carried on that strong form at Invercargill on the weekend to finish the NZV8 Championship with his third consecutive top 10 round result.
With more mileage under their belt with the Pinepac ITM Commodore, the team were solidly inside the top 10 during testing at the high speed Teretonga Park circuit and looked set to once again battle it out in the final qualifying bracket. Although initially missing the ideal setup for the new tyre gain, Anderson was on track to break into the final qualifying bracket when an axle breakage at the end of his flying lap cost him any chance.
‘I was up on my previous best time and it would have got me through.’ commented Anderson on the axle failure that halted his qualifying session, leaving him 12th fastest and missing the top 10 by less than two tenths of a second.
Lining up on the grid for the first race, Anderson was confident that the pace shown during testing would enable him to race well. Getting away cleanly, the field soon sorted themselves out with Anderson easily slotting into position. Early on in the race, Anderson was able to gain positions to break into the top 10, a place he held to the finish posting the 10th fastest time for the starting order for race 2.
Overnight the team worked on fine tuning the setup of the Pinepac ITM Commodore in a bid to extract further pace and enable Anderson to push forward up the grid. Once again the full field of NZV8s got away cleanly and Anderson was soon revelling with the new improved setup as he moved up the field. Battling with Australian drivers David Besnard and Luke Youlden, Anderson was able to initially get by Youlden then after a race long battle effected a pass on Besnard to move up to 8th place.
With 3 laps remaining, Anderson was now in 7th place. Coming around to complete the final lap of the race, he took advantage of an off track excursion by Dean Perkins to move up another position. As he approached the final turn, Anderson received a hit from behind pushing him wide on the exit and dropping him back to 7th at the line. Later officials relegated the competitor involved, promoting Anderson to a 6th place finish.
No sooner did the team learn of their promotion in race 2, officials handed Anderson a 5 second time penalty for breaking the grid order at the rolling start – relegating him back down the order to 8th place. ‘I was just following the line ahead, watching the light and went with them. I actually had to brake at the line to not hit anyone commented Anderson on the race 2 start. As a double blow to the team, Anderson’s starting position for the final reverse grid race was also relegated a further 6 positions.
Rolling to the start line in 23rd place, Anderson got away well as the field piled into the first turn. Approaching the braking area, Anderson got squeezed to the inside and, with cars making contact ahead, he attempted to pull up the Pinepac ITM Commodore. However, with one wheel on the grass, the car spun dropping him to the back of the field. Anderson refired the car and rejoined at the back of the field, setting off in search of the bunch.
Still trailing the field, Anderson was soon back on its tail again as the field got back underway from an early race two lap caution period. Although struggling with damaged tyres from the opening lap spin, Anderson was able to make further progress up the field, competing strongly with other front running cars also battling their way forward. As the final championship race came to a close, Anderson had the Pinepac ITM Commodore up to 14th place at the finish, securing enough points for a back to back 8th place overall result.
‘After the spin the car did not feel balanced, I think I may have flat spotted a tyre. It’s disappointing as I felt we had a top 5 car this weekend.’ commented Anderson post race after reflecting on the race 2 penalty and last race opening lap spin.
Wrapping up the NZV8 Championship, Anderson finished in 12th place overall. After sitting as low as 27th mid season, this was a great comeback for the Pinepac Racing Team. It was a season of two halves for Anderson and the team. They started well with their original car but then aspirations were dashed as they ended the opening round without a car. Thanks to fellow racer Nick Ross and his team for offering a loan car. This enabled Anderson to compete up till mid season when the team rolled out a brand new car.
Since hitting the track with their new Pinepac ITM Commodore, Anderson has proven to be a front runner. He has achieved one 10th and two 8th place overall round results and had a 100% finishing record.
Pinepac Racing would like to thank their loyal family of sponsors who have supported them during the season and look forward to rewarding them with another strong result at next month’s Trophy event held at the Hamilton 400 V8 Supercar event where the NZV8s are the main support category.