05 NOV 2017
Pukekohe podium for Waters on challenging day
Friendly fire hampered Prodrive Racing (Australia)'s Sunday at the Auckland SuperSprint, as an opening lap tangle between team-mates spoiled a promising afternoon across the ditch.
The morning saw Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto FG X), Mark Winterbottom (#5 The Bottle-O FG X), and Cameron Waters (#6 Monster Energy FG X) place 3-4-5 in morning qualifying, but the team's bid for victory all but dissolved on Lap 1. All three PRA drivers connected with each other at Turn 8 in the first lap scramble, spinning Mostert and damaging both his and Winterbottom's Fords while Waters slipped through to third.
From there, it became a recovery mission for Mostert and Winterbottom, the latter of whom incurred a drive-through penalty following his second stop for exceeding the pit speed limit. Mostert, however, salvaged a seventh place finish to remain mathematically alive in the championship as the season reaches its climax at the end of the month in Newcastle.
Jason Bright (#56 MEGA Fuels FG X) was frustrated to qualify 18th, but showed leading pace in the 70-lap race, climbing up to an eighth place finish, having given up seventh to a charging Mostert on the final lap to help his team-mates title hopes.
Capping a disappointing end to the weekend, Saturday's runner-up Winterbottom finished off Race 24 in 19th.
#5 The Bottle-O PRA Ford
"There's not much to say. Frankly our race was ruined by one of our own, so that's quite disappointing. Cam thought the move was on, but this is the end result and it's tough to deal with. The car was quick, the team prepared it well, so it goes down as a wasted opportunity. Not the way anyone wanted to end the weekend."
#6 Monster Energy PRA Ford
"It's good to get the podium and good for the team to get a podium. Obviously there was a low point on it with the contact at Turn 8 across the three of us. From my point of view, I thought the move was on, I got beside Mark, I got up to his door and got pushed to the inside of the road, but by then Chaz had already committed to turning in. It was all a bit awkward, but we'll go through the footage and see what happened with that."
#55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford
"Tough, tough day. We qualified well and figured out why we were struggling so much earlier in the weekend, so we had that fixed. The car was really, really fast in the race, but we just got cannonballed on the first lap and ended up turned around, facing the wrong way, back to the end of all the cars, and somehow got back to seventh. That just shows the speed of the car today. But it's real disappointing for the boys, because today we had a car that should definitely have been on the podium at the least. Not a good end to our New Zealand trip."
#56 MEGA Fuels PRA Ford
"Good ending. I was a bit disappointed with qualifying, because we obviously had top five pace again, like we did yesterday. Because of that we had to compromise our strategy to try and get track position each time. We ended up having the oldest tyres to all the guys we were running around at any stage of the race. But I was really happy with the race pace, just need to qualify better. That's the hard part at the moment. I'm happy with the pace, happy with the racing we had this weekend. I just love this track, it's a good sort of driver's track."
Chris O'Toole – Team Manager
"It was a disappointing outcome to what promised so much after qualifying. For two of the cars to be taken out of contention and one other car implicated puts a hole in the result. We got a podium, but that's sort of a case of the powers of significance. I'd have much rather had three guys getting a serious result from the pace than ending up like that. I haven't seen all the footage, but certainly from what I've seen it looks like too many cars in a fairly small hole. The stewards have deemed it a racing incident so we'll discuss it internally but the results stand and our focus is now on Newcastle and converting the pace we have."