2019 SUPERUTE ROUND 6: D-MAX EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD IN BATHURST
12 October 2019
Revered as Australia’s premier racing circuit and the largest motorsport event of the calendar, the SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000 marked the sixth round for the 2019 ECB SuperUtes Championship. Tom Alexander started his Bathurst weekend in equal-first, alongside reigning-2018 SuperUtes Champion, Ryal Harris.
From the drop of the green flag in the first Practice session, Alexander’s pace looked strong in the D-MAX—with Ross Stone Racing (RSR) taking the opportunity to fine tune the setup to improve the driveability out of the corners.
"In the first session, the D-MAX was good over the top of the Mountain, but I was losing time in the first and third sectors. We made some changes in the second session to help it drive out of the slower corners better, and it was definitely an improvement,” reported Tom Alexander.
Saturday Qualifying dawned on cold and damp conditions, with intensifying rainfall hampering driver’s efforts to lap green and ultimately, purple sectors. Unfortunately midway through the session, Alexander’s D-MAX SuperUte suffered a spike in engine temperature, with the issue originating from the fan belt that had worked its way loose. Pulling into the pits for an inspection, the Team was able to fix the issue before the session was prematurely red flagged following an accident in sector 2. The session concluded with Alexander’s efforts earning him a P9 start for race 1. After qualifying, the decision was made by the Team to swap the engine with a spare, ahead of Race 1—which at that stage was only 9 hours away.
Further drama ensued in Race 1, with a wet start catching Nathan Pretty out as he fishtailed his #18 Colorado out of Hell Corner (turn 1) to unavoidably dart across the mid-field. Taking evasive action, Alexander sought an escape from the chaos down the inside—but speared into the passenger side of Pretty as the Colorado slid across the track. The heavy impact caused significant damage to the front of the D-MAX SuperUte—forcing Alexander to fall into line at the back of the pack. Bruised and battered, Alexander was able to recover and nurse his SuperUte to the chequered flag, earning back a few places to finish in P6—a notion only made more miraculous after the team assessed the level of damage after the race.
Post-Race 1, the Team worked tirelessly late through the night to repair the damage to the #22 Isuzu D-MAX SuperUte; replacing front panels, the structural support for the radiator, the crash bar and the radiator assembly.
However, Race 2 was also not without chaos. A late-race incident saw Cameron Crick locking his rears under braking into The Chase and spinning to a halt in the middle of the corner—only to leave Bayley Hall nowhere to go, but into the left side of Crick’s Triton. Series rival, Ryal Harris also failed to finish Race 2 with engine overheating issues forcing his early retirement. Plagued with an engine failure, Harris was a non-starter for Race 3.
“I got lucky off the start and was able to make a few spots, and I knew I had to clear the Rangers quickly. I took a few risky moves over the top of the Mountain, but credit to the guys—because they gave me room. It’s a shame my title rivals Cameron (Crick) and Ryal (Harris) were out, it’s not the way I wanted to build a points lead, but you never know what might happen in the last 2 rounds, so we have to keep pushing on,” Alexander continued.
Race 3 saw Alexander start from the second row in third. However, Ben Walsh got an early jump for the lead on the first lap. That was until the experienced, Nathan Pretty passed Walsh through The Chase—with Alexander following closely behind. On lap 2 through The Chase, Alexander made the move on Walsh for second, but found contact with the HiLux in turn 21, forcing the D-MAX SuperUte into a tank-slapper that Alexander wrestled to control—before re-joining in fifth.
With lost ground to make up, Alexander pressed on, setting some purple sectors and a new lap record as he chased down the lead pack. On lap 3 through Griffins Bend, Alexander made the pass down the inside on Joshua Anderson for forth, then again on Ben Walsh through The Chase for third place, where he would ultimately finish just 0.3 seconds behind Crick.
“We had really good pace in Race 3 – to come away from the weekend with a lap record at Bathurst is cool. Unfortunately, I tangled with Ben (Walsh) in the Chase, but I had the pace to comeback through to third,” commented Tom Alexander after Race 3.
“Championship-wise, we’re very happy with our position, but there’s still a long way to go. It was an awesome team effort to bounce back after Friday—and Saturday morning—so a massive thanks to RSR for all of their hard work. Bring on Gold Coast in a couple of weeks!” He reflected.
Tom Alexander in the #22 Caltex Delo® Racing Isuzu D-MAX SuperUte leads the 2019 ECB SuperUte Championship by 39 points ahead of Cameron Crick.
The Caltex Delo® Racing Isuzu D-MAX SuperUte will return to the track for Round 7 of the 2019 ECB SuperUte Championship, at the Vodafone Gold Coast 500 on 25-27 October 2019.
SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000 Results
Practice 1 – 4th
Practice 2 – 2nd
Qualifying – 9th
Race 1 – 6th
Race 2 – 1st
Race 3 – 3rd
Championship Points after Round 6 SuperCheap Auto Bathurst 1000
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