Ben Clucas Racing

Phillip Island 20th-21st May

Two wins from pole were a fantastic result in a weekend of high drama.

 

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Testing on the Wednesday and Friday went pretty well - fastest both days, despite an engine change which cost some track time. First qualifying on Saturday went even better, the car set-up was very good on new tyres and a good lap by Ben allowed him to sit out the final minutes of the session. The second session was much more difficult and it was only in the last minutes of the session that pole was secured by the smallest of margins.

The weather turned showery on race day and it was only just before the first race that conditions became really wet. The team worked feverishly to the last minute to set the car up, which was to prove crucial. A stuttering start let Trimble take the lead off the line. However, the Team BRM car was back in front by the end of the lap, before a 3 lap safety car period intervened. Meanwhile, the Clerk of the Course had decided that Ben had rolled at the start, and after the safety car period he was shown the Black Flag for a drive-through penalty dropping him some 30 seconds behind Trimble. He needed to lap 4 seconds a lap faster to catch the leader before the flag. Remarkably, he started lapping 5 seconds quicker, and was up to 3rd behind Trimble and Macrow by lap 10, when the safety car came out again! This was something of a mixed blessing, it closed the gap up, but left only the final lap to pass 3 cars (including a back marker) and catch up 3 seconds on Trimble, who made an excellent restart. Ben was soon behind Macrow, passing him at turn four and was up the inside of Trimble on the final turn - out-dragging him to the line by 3 thousandths of a second!

The second race was less dramatic, and damp, on slicks. A cautious start, understandable after the first race, let Gilmour and Macrow past, but the John Deer/Gawler Farm Machinery car was back in the lead within a lap and had pulled out a comfortable gap before a safety car period on lap 5. It ended with 3 laps to run and from there Ben pulled out a comfortable gap on Trimble, eventually finishing 1.5 seconds ahead.

The results increase the championship lead to 28 over Trimble and 58 over Macrow in third.

Ben was naturally elated. "That first race was terrific - winning it was the best buzz I've ever had in racing. I was really pumped up after the drive through penalty and pushed really hard - I certainly needed to. The team gave me a great car to do it with."

 

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