Armor All Gold Coast 600
The concrete lined streets of Surfers Paradise rarely fail to excite at the Gold Coast 600, and so it transpired on a cool, overcast Friday. The Bright/Jones car had a very heavy impact with a tyre barrier during the co-driver only practice 2, with Andrew Jones on-board. The car missed practice 3 and 4 (and all of Saturday’s sessions too). Thankfully TEKNO had a relatively trouble free run, and aside from offering a couple of mirrors to the gods, had a solid day of practice.
The car 19 Team TEKNO Darrell Lea team of Jonathon Webb and Marc Lieb had a great run, showing good pace throughout the day's sessions. Their result in the fourth session was hampered by running out of time to fit green tyres and set a fast lap - however signs were very good for qualifying and racing on Saturday.
Car 97's crew of Team TEKNO V.I.P. Petfoods' Shane van Gisbergen and Jeroen Bleekemolen had a few struggles across the day, running on old soft tyres, which somewhat hampered the efforts of both drivers. In the day's final session, SVG had a run on green slicks, and ended up 9th for the session, and the day.
How they saw it, Friday:
Jonathon Webb: "It's been a pretty good day. On old tyres I think we're really on the money. We just ran out of time at the end there to put some greens on, so a little bit disappointed we didn't get to do that before quali, but I think Marc did a really good job, his lap time was hard to beat out there. On old tyres, between the two of us, I think we're looking really good for the race, fingers crossed we can get it right for quali."
Marc Lieb: "I'm feeling very good. I had really good sessions today. I was comfortable in the car straight away, it's very nice to come to a track you know! We had good pace, we fine-tuned the car a little bit, especially for the race. I'm quite happy with the race pace, we have a good car and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Shane van Gisbergen: "I think we were one of the only ones to run new tyres at the end there, so we're not going all that well in comparison to some of the others out there. It's much better than this morning, but I would have liked to be in the top three. We played around all day, but we've got to find some speed somewhere. We'll work it out!"
Jeroen Bleekemolen: "It was good fun to be back here, that's for sure, at a place I know. We struggled a little bit on old tyres today, we didn't have the best tyres for practice, so I wasn't very competitive early on. It got better and better, but there's certainly some room for improvement. Shane had a pretty good run at the end there, so hopefully know it's just a case of getting it together for qualifying and racing."
The Gold Coast 600 has previously been a happy hunting ground for TEKNO, and it so proved again on Saturday, with a mirror image of our 2012 Gold Coast 600 Saturday result. The Team TEKNO V.I.P. Petfoods team of Shane van Gisbergen and Jeroen Bleekemolen finished in second place, behind Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff. Third was Mark Winterbottom and Steven Richards.
It was a tough race all round, with the cars looking extremely second hand at the conclusion of the 102-lap, 300km epic. The team made fantastic calls on strategy all day, with a few safety car periods working in our favour to allow us to gain track position. Jeroen drove a great opening stint, leading many laps in a great battle with the Mercedes of Craig Baird.
Once Shane took over, he moved forward through the field, displaying his natural speed in the tight confines of the track's concrete walls. At the final pit stop he took four tyres and fuel, whereas Lowndes took only two tyres and slightly less fuel so was able to get the advantage, and maintain it to the end of the race. It very nearly didn't happen at all, however, as Shane made an error in the top ten shootout that tore the front left suspension out of the car. The team worked furiously in the 90 minutes available, and got the car onto the grid with only a few minutes to spare.
The car 19 Team TEKNO Darrell Lea crew of Jonathon Webb and Marc Lieb qualified in p22 after Jonathon had an impact with a tyre bundle whilst on his fastest lap of the session. The damage caused took the team a couple of hours to rectify, however they also did a great job and had the car on the grid in great condition.
The race for them was a tough one, with Marc doing his best to make up ground in the first stint. Being in the mid-pack is never easy, especially here, and he did well to bring the car back straight and good to go for Jonathon. Jonathon took over the car, and was able to make up some positions, and a couple of fast stops pushed them up the order to finish in tenth position for the day.
Two top tens and a podium at one of the toughest circuits of the season was a great result for TEKNO, and had us excited for even better results on Sunday.
How they saw it, Saturday:
Jonathon Webb: "It's always a tough 300km around here, especially starting back where we were [p22]. It was always going to be tough, and we were never going to get on the podium, and stand next to Shane, unfortunately. Marc did a great job. He got a good, clean start, and he was happy with the car, but struggled to make his way through the field. Everyone was bumping and rubbing, and avoiding that Murphy/Dumbrell incident, so it was pretty tough. He brought it back in one-piece, and I was able to get into it. The car was good, but it wasn't awesome and then from there we battled on. Pushed on as we could, had a couple of decent stops and popped out around about 10th place. From our perspective, it was a relatively uneventful day, which is good around here!"
Marc Lieb: "It was really tough, when you start p22, it's never easy. I felt that I had good pace, but it was hard to pass, and then I lost a lot of track position in the incident with car 22, which I'd previously gained, so that was tough. We made good calls with strategy and the safety cars, we jumped a few guys by staying on the same tyres. I think I ended up doing 40 or so laps on the same tyres, which is quite a lot. I had some other guys on newer tyres behind, but it was a good battle, good fun and I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Hopefully we can start further up and make a really good race out of it!"
Shane van Gisbergen: "It was my mistake in the shootout, and we were a good chance for a top three I thought. I simply made a mistake and caused quite a lot of damage. The team did an excellent job to get the car ready, and right from the start the car was good. Jeroen did a great job, and led quite a lot of laps, which was great to see. I jumped in, and there were so many different strategies, with lots of people on different tyres, and fuel loads, so it was quite a strategic race. At the safety car we had to stop to take on the required amount of fuel, and we came out behind Craig [Lowndes]. I knew we were racing him, and we managed to pass him on track, but he jumped us at the last stop by only taking rear tyres. I thought I had a shot at him, and I was catching him for a few laps, but then he got going as his car balanced out. His pace was unreal. For rears only, it was really impressive. I knew we had to take more fuel on at the last stop, and I hoped we'd be a little bit closer to him at the end, but his pace was too good anyway."
Jeroen Bleekemolen: "I dreamed of a podium finish, but it actually happened today! The team did a great job with strategy, and Shane drove really well. I had a good race, I was fighting in the lead due to other people pitting. I had a great fight with Bairdo [Craig Baird] for the lead, and managed to hold onto it, and then when Shane took over he passed so many cars on track, so I knew we were on for a good result. This is such a nice series. The racing is incredible. I've raced all over the world, but I think that this is the best racing, looking at how close everything is. There are no amateur drivers, everyone is a professional, they're all really good. It's tough for us to come over and do a good job, but it's really fun as well. It was great to be on the podium here, and hopefully we can have another shot at it tomorrow. This has been very rewarding. I don't know how to surf yet, but I think I'm going to have to learn!
"This result is for Sean Edwards. He was my best friend. We drove many races together, and hung out a lot away from the track too. It's been a really hard week. Last week, I was crying in a race car, even during a race. This week has been much better, and it was really great to have that battle with Bairdo, because he knew him well too. I think somehow he was smiling down on us. I texted Bairdo as soon as I got out of the car. It was a hard fight, but fair, and it gave me strength. It was great to have a good race again. He was a great guy. He was one of the best racers. he could do anything. It's sad that he's gone, I still feel really bad about it. Hopefully time will cure it. He will be missed."
Motorsport is a cruel mistress, and TEKNO were taught a lesson by her on Sunday. After the highs of a podium and top-ten double on Saturday we sunk to a very low point with a DNF for Shane and Jeroen, and a hard fought, but disappointing 17th for Jonathon and Marc. The day started poorly for the team, with a lack of pace in qualifying hampering our efforts to improve on Saturday's result. Shane's best lap saw him start from 12th on the grid, whilst Jonathon battled a mysterious handling issue to start from p24.
It's hard around the street of Surfers Paradise at the best of times, but even harder when you're running in the mid-pack and beyond. From the first lap, we knew it was going to be tough. Marc was unfortunately caught up with a spinning David Brabham in the #47 Mercedes, which meant he had to come to a complete stop and select reverse before he was able to continue. He did brilliantly to catch up to the pack, but it was evident that something in the car was broken after that incident, and the handling was negatively affected for the remainder of the race. Marc did a very long stint, in excess of 50 laps, before handing over the Jonathon for the run to the flag. The best Jonathon could manage was to hold position, with the chassis issue stopping his desire to push through the field. They would end the day in 17th position.
Shane and Jeroen's race started far less spectacularly, with Jeroen running his stint on old tyres, to save the good rubber for later in the race. Despite this, he showed great pace and was able to hand the car to Shane in good shape and ready for a typical SVG attack through the field. SVG latched onto the bumper of Craig Lowndes, and they ran nose to tail for many laps, making their way forward until Scott Pye made an error at the turn one chicane as he was exiting pit lane, leaving SVG nowhere to go but straight into his rear. It destroyed the front end of the Team TEKNO V.I.P. Petfoods Holden, and ended our race. It was a massive come-down from Saturday, when Shane and Jeroen were standing on the podium with their brand new surfboards, but that’s motor sport!
How they saw it. Sunday:
Jonathon Webb: "Qualifying as far back as we did it was always going to be a tough race, Marc got caught up in everyone's stuff, which is pretty typical when you start that far back, but he pushed on and did a good job. I'm really pleased with everything Marc has done for us over the last three rounds, I wouldn't change having him for anything. We just haven't had the car this weekend, and certainly didn't have the car during the race, and we were so far behind the 8-ball by the time I got in the car that we sat back, and if anyone fell off we'd grab some points, but really that's as far forward as we were going to go. We've only got two more rounds to go, and we're dropping a bit further behind than I wanted to, but we'll see what happens at Phillip Island. New surface, new track, so it will be something different. We'll see what happens there, and then Homebush is usually a good one for us, so hopefully we can grab some points there and finish on a high "
Marc Lieb: "It was another tough day in the office. I had a pretty good start, but Brabham had a spin, and he was right in the way. I couldn't go anywhere. There was a car left, a car right and he was straight in front of me, so I had to stop, and reverse back. Then driving to catch the pack was good, fighting for position and I passed a few people. Then we pitted under safety car, and we had an issue with the car. Maybe something broke when I hit Brabham, I'm not sure, but it was our main problem for the day. It was a disappointing day. I enjoyed the experience with TEKNO a lot, it's just a shame we couldn't get the results we wanted. This is the disappointing thing. Hopefully I will be able to come back, we'll make it better, and get better results. I definitely enjoyed the three races, it was a wonderful experience, probably one of the best I've had in my racing career. Especially Bathurst, and the Gold Coast again too. I'm very familiar with the team, and it's always nice to
come to Australia."
Shane van Gisbergen: "Jeroen had really good pace, staying with the guys around him, especially considering the quality of the tyres he was running on. I jumped in, and we had good pace, but I don't think our strategy was right. Then a guy came out of the pits, and made a mistake. He came and apologised, but unfortunately it ruined our day. I wish it had been the other way around, with a bad result yesterday and a good one today, but we did pretty good yesterday. But unfortunately now we have a rooted car. I like the Phillip Island track, so hopefully we can do well there and put on a good show."
Jeroen Bleekemolen: "I had a really good time today, I had really good pace on old tyres, which I didn't know at the time, but found out later! So I was happy with that. It was a tough race, for sure, one of the toughest I've been involved in. This place is very hard on cars, and I felt that we would have a good result again, as Shane was driving very fast. But, it wasn't to be and he got caught up with another driver and had a crash. But we had a great result yesterday, and I get to go home with a beautiful surfboard! I've really enjoyed my time in Australia, driving for TEKNO with Shane. The highlight is certainly the 2nd place yesterday, but Bathurst is spectacular. For sure, I would love to come back. Hopefully next year!"
Team TEKNO remain in fifth position in the Team's Championship on 3751 points, whilst Shane van Gisbergen is 7th in the Driver's Championship on 2052 and Jonathon Webb 12th on 1659. Our next race sees us travel to Phillip Island in Victoria on November 22-24 for the penultimate race of the 2013 season.