2019 SUPERUTE ROUND 5: D-MAX MAINTAINS EQUAL-LEAD AFTER DISASTROUS RACE IN IPSWICH
01 August 2019
Disappointment for Ross Stone Racing’s Tom Alexander in the #22 Caltex Delo® Racing Isuzu D-MAX SuperUte at Round 5 of the 2019 ECB SuperUtes Championship in Ipswich, Queensland. With an unfortunate DNF (Did Not Finish) denting the Team’s 2019 Championship lead—now equal for first with defending 2018-Champion, Ryal Harris.
Playing host to Round 5 was the famous 3.12Km Queensland Raceway circuit, located on the fringe of Ipswich, Queensland. This flat, six-corner course—nicknamed “the paperclip” due to resembling the stationery staple when viewed from above—is simple on paper, but has proved tricky for the SuperUte category in the past.
“We struggled for car balance early on and we made small improvements over the weekend but just never found that sweet spot,” explained #22 Caltex Delo® Racing Isuzu D-MAX SuperUte driver Tom Alexander.
The start of qualifying was ablaze with everyone venturing onto the track with green (brand new) Yokohama tyres, posting their best times early on in the session, with Tom Alexander setting the third quickest time in the Isuzu D-MAX. There was little movement in the second half of qualifying as the tyres degraded.
“We were struggling with the balance of the D-MAX particularly in the rear,” said Ross Stone, Ross Stone Racing Team Owner. “However, Tom did a great job to qualify third,” he continued.
Starting Race 1 in P3, Tom Alexander got a solid start on the inside of turn 1 slotting into P2. But was forced to switch to the defensive against a charging Ben Walsh and Cameron Crick from behind, before losing track position in turns 3 and 4. Alexander crossed the chequered flag in P4, still struggling with balance and a lack of rear grip.
Race 2 saw Alexander start mid-field in P8, as per the reverse grid format of the category. Capitalising on the start, Alexander quickly dispatched a couple of cars early in the race, before losing power in the D-MAX and pulling into pit lane for the Team to investigate the problem. This saw the #22 Caltex Delo® Racing Isuzu D-MAX retire from the race, with the Team’s first DNF of the Season.
“When Tom pitted, we discovered an exhaust leak from the turbo which had loose studs—resulting in the loss of power,” explained Ross Stone. “If we were going to have a DNF though, we were lucky it was during a half points race.”
Starting at the back of the grid in P11 for Race 3 due to the DNF in Race 2, Alexander had a blistering start—promptly passing four cars on the opening lap. There was plenty of action at the front of the field with Harris, Price and Crick going three-wide at turn 3, with Price prevailing for the lead over Harris. Alexander’s pace saw him slice through the mid-field into P5, where he caught the lead pack scrap between Woods, Crick and Harris on the last lap. In a final attempt, Alexander lined up a good exit off turn 6 to challenge for position across the line—resulting in a photo finish at the chequered flag—with only 0.07 separating Alexander and Crick.
“The D-MAX was handling well in Race 3, making 6 passes stick to finish in P5 just behind the scrap for 3rd,” Ross Stone remarked. “Tom managed to set the second fastest time and the second fastest top speed, which proved he had pace—it’s just a shame we missed the setup earlier in the weekend,” he concluded.
“Race 3 was definitely the highlight but unfortunately it was just one of those weekends where nothing seemed to go our way,” said Tom Alexander. “One positive to take away after a tough weekend is that we still lead the championship—although now we share that lead with Ryal Harris on equal points. We might be down but we are certainly not out and there’s still a long way to go, bring on Bathurst in October,” he continued.
Tom Alexander in the #22 Caltex Delo® Racing Isuzu D-MAX SuperUte leads the 2019 ECB SuperUte Championship, now shared on equal-points with 2018-Champion Ryal Harris, with 706 points each and three rounds to go.
The Isuzu D-MAX SuperUte will return to the track for Round 6 of the 2019 ECB SuperUte Championship, at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, 10-13 October 2019.
Century Batteries Ipswich SuperSprint Results
Practice 1 – 3rd
Practice 2 – 3rd
Qualifying – 3rd
Race 1 – 4th
Race 2 – DNF
Race 3 – 5th
Championship Points after Round 5 Century Batteries Ipswich SuperSprint
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