Erebus Penrite Racing’s David Reynolds and Luke Youlden finished a battling drive to fifth at the Sandown 500 today, as their rookie teammates Anton De Pasquale and Will Brown added to the team’s points haul with 12thplace.
Starting from pole position, Luke held his spot momentarily before a very quick Jamie Whincup took off next to him. Will was also on the run in the #99 Holden, moving up to seventh before the end of the first lap.
Luke and Will formed a co-driver battle pack at the front of the field with a few of the heavyweights before the #9 dived for pit lane. Will followed but this time under Safety Car.
When racing resumed Will jumped up to fifth courtesy of his stop under Safety Car and both drivers applied pressure. Luke managed to make a move on Earl Bamber at Turn 1 and Will searched for an opportunity to make a move stick on Tony D’Alberto.
The Safety Car was quickly called to action again and at the right time too; both Commodore’s bolting for pit lane and a quick driver change. When the green flags came out it was the main drivers at the helm; Anton now sixth and Dave seventh.
With Dave on a mission to get back up the front of the pack, the #9 passed his teammate for sixth at Turn 1, before settling in for a long run. He pit again on lap 88, the team this time completing a brake pad change. Anton followed five laps later from seventh and later settled in P12.
Ninth-placed David was still on the move and followed Scott McLaughlin right up to fifth before taking his final stop on lap 124. Anton stopped three laps earlier from tenth spot, making it a 40-lap sprint to the finish.
Now on fresher tyres, David was lapping quicker than McLaughlin and the possibility of fourth place began to take shape. Dave reeled McLaughlin in and narrowed the gap to just 0.2-seconds, searching for the right moment to go for a move. McLaughlin however, made no mistakes and the #9 settled into fifth before taking the checkered flag.
Anton fought hard for the final place inside the top ten but eventually yielded 12th, a brilliant effort for the rookie pairing.
“Starting on pole was obviously good but I made a mess at the start. I felt like I got a good jump but probably didn’t release the clutch enough and got passed and squeezed going into turn one. The car seemed to be trucking along well after that but the car wasn’t really looking after its tyres. The boys made a change for the second stint and tuned it up a lot but we probably put a little too much fuel in it in comparison to the other cars so we lost probably five spots. Dave did a good job with getting us back those spots in the end. I’m a little disappointed with fifth but that just shows where this team has come in a year’s time.”
“We lost a bit of time at the start today but I don’t think it really effected our position. I think we maximised everything we could, there were a few cars in front that were just quicker and we were only able to race for fourth. I’m disappointed I didn’t pass McLaughlin but fifth is a great effort a year on from last year. We have improved heaps; the team did a fantastic job in their stops, did everything with ease, and the strategy was good which got us back those couple of spots we lost at the start.”
“We had a really good day, I started from ninth and made a couple spots in the first lap and then held that for most of my stint before I handed the car over to Anton. The car felt really good and we had pretty good pace compared to the guys around us. I was a little nervous heading in for our first driver change, I took my helmet fan off with about five laps to go but when I pitted everything seemed to go alright. We can probably do a couple things better next time but I’m really happy with the day overall and for two rookies I think we did a good job.”
ANTON DE PASQUALE:
“The race today was pretty good. Will did well and got the car up a few spots in his first stint. I then had a few splitter dramas though and slowly lost a bit of speed as the race went on but overall it was a good day. It’s great to have my first endurance event under my belt, both Will and I doing our first driver changes and the added elements that come with it. It was a good weekend overall and now we’re a bit more prepared for Bathurst.”