Ben Clucas Racing

Toyota Racing Series Taupo Jan 19th-21st 2007

A weekend where a dream start turned to a nightmare for reasons outside Ben's control. Other drivers had their problems too, so he remains third in the championship.

 

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Testing and qualifying went well, the ESWA car lining up on grid 2 for race 1.

A good start led to a brief battle with pole-sitter Shane Van Gisbergen, but that was resolved at turn 2 as Van Gisbergen left the track, and Ben was never headed thereafter. Early pace was very good and he was able to maintain a safe gap. However in the latter stages, the newly surface track gained grip, which didn't suit the ESWA car's setup so well and the pack closed up, but a one second gap was maintained to the flag. Only 9th fastest lap meant grid 9 for race 2 - which was to prove crucial.

At - or to be more accurate BEFORE - the start of race 2 a backmarker started, realised his mistake and stopped again, right next to grid 9! Surprising the start was allowed to proceed but Ben was badly baulked by the errant driver and dropped towards the back of the field. A good drive saw the ESWA car back up to 7th by the penultimate lap - behind the same driver who had jumped the start. A good run down the straight and the two cars were side by side for, what seemed, a simple overtaking manoeuvre,. The other driver, however continually moved across until contact was made damaging both cars. Ben managed to limp home, all but on 3 wheels , but in 17th place and with 15th fastest lap. There is an ongoing inquiry into the other drivers actions - but that will not restore the points lost.

The third race went no better. A good start allowed a few places to be made up, but contact between two cars in front at turn one left a car parked in the middle of the track, leaving Ben nowhere to go, and the resulting damage was too severe to allow the car to continue.

Overall a weekend to forget.

 

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