Erebus Motorsport are looking at the positives, after their race was ruined by consecutive tyre blowouts at the Wilson Security Sandown 500 today.
With the grid set yesterday, co-drivers Luke Youlden and Chris Pither were set to start the 500-kilometre race from third and seventh on the grid.
Youlden made a good getaway once the lights went out but wasn’t enough to hold off Paul Dumbrell, and dropped back to fourth. Pither repeated yesterday’s efforts and was hot off the line, shooting to ffith and slotting in just behind his teammate.
For the second year in a row, opening lap carnage meant the race was red-flagged. Repairs to the tyre wall delayed the restart for more than an hour, ensuring a time-certain finish when the lights went out.
With Steve Owen hot on the tails of both Erebus Holden’s, Pither did his best to fend off the Falcon before the #55 passed and set his sights on Youlden.
The battle heated up, and it was a risky move by Owen that saw Youlden escorted off the road and into the dirt. He re-joined the field eighth.
The first round of stops came a lot earlier than expected for Pither, with a right-front puncture bringing him into pit lane. Youlden followed shortly after for a new set of wheels; both co-drivers set for another stint.
The action was far from over for Youlden, who found himself under pressure from Dean Canto and Warren Luff for P9 before making his second stop; David Reynolds now jumping in. Just one lap later the #99 Holden pit, swapping Pither for Dale Wood.
Trailing just outside the top ten, Reynolds’ run was ruined when a tyre puncture forced him to nurse his Commodore back to pit lane, losing 11 spots.
With both Erebus Holden’s now out of contention, Wood and Reynolds did their best efforts to bring the cars home in 14th and 19th respectively; 36 laps short of the scheduled 161 laps.
The team are eager to head to Bathurst in just over two weeks’ time, after proving they can challenge the category’s heavyweights this weekend.
David Reynolds – #9 Erebus Penrite Racing
“So today was pretty ordinary as far as our race result goes, but overall it’s been a really good weekend. We had a fantastic day yesterday we just dropped the ball a little bit today and didn’t make the most of our package which hurt our performance. We believe we would have been comfortable in the top ten but after that puncture we went a lap down and were fighting for nothing. It happens every now and again, and it’s the worst position we have had in a long time so it shows how far we have come as a team.”
Luke Youlden – #9 Erebus Penrite Racing
“I got a good start but couldn’t do much with it, the row in front were slower off the line but they just blocked me. I thought about doing a desperate move but I thought better of it with 500-kilometres to go. After the restart, I was trucking along OK and Steve Owen whacked me pretty hard and I dropped back. The car was very fast at the start of the stint, but I battled with traction after that and once that happens here you just go backwards, so I just held on the best I could. Bring on Bathurst!”
Dale Wood – #99 Erebus GB Galvanizing Racing
“Plenty of positives to take from the weekend; yesterday was really good and I’ve enjoyed working with Chris again and I think we should go to Bathurst very positive. It’s unfortunate about today’s result but we didn’t have a car that we could attack with; obviously a puncture early on made things hard, so to climb back to 14th was still a good effort. It certainly could have been worse, we have a straight car and plenty to take to Bathurst.”
Chris Pither – #99 Erebus GB Galvanizing Racing
“I got another good start, similar to yesterday and managed to get two spots off the line and was feeling pretty good. Unfortunately, I felt that we had a bit more tyre degradation than what we had in yesterday’s race and just struggled with drive. I had a right-front puncture which hurt our progress a bit and lost a few spots as a result of that, but I was able to jump into the lane pretty quickly and minimised some damage there. I think finishing 14th was all we could do today after what happened, but throughout the weekend I think we have shown there’s some good potential there and we’ll push forward for Bathurst!”