ISLAND CHALLENGES FOR DAVIES
On a weekend that promised so much but failed to deliver the anticipated outcome, Shae Davies drove his heart out to bounce back from a disappointing opening race to leave the second round of the 2016 Dunlop V8 Supercar Series in eighth position in the championship points score.
After a strong Friday practice session things started to unravel in qualifying on Saturday when light coastal rain showers swept across the high-speed 4.45k Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. Davies was amongst the quickest cars early on, before pitting for his final set of fresh tyres mid-session. With the likelihood of the rain increasing or a potential red flag scenario looming, Davies team sent him out slightly earlier than would normally be the case and for a short time it looked like the Davbridge MW Motorsport boys had struck gold, Davies vaulting to the top of the times with just a few minutes remaining. Incredibly, the rain stopped and Davies closest competitors, who had saved their tyres for a last-minute dash, all took advantage of the drier conditions to vault their way by, leaving him down in an unrepresentative ninth grid spot.
Race 1 saw Davies immediately moving up one position and embroiled - just as he was at the opening round - in a battle with cousins Macauley and Andrew Jones, before a concertina collision on lap four saw Davies suffering damage to the front of his Falcon, necessitating a visit to the pits and dropping him to 24th position at race end.
Sunday morning's second 16-lap race saw Davies put on a great display of high-speed driving and clever race craft, charging through the field making decisive passing moves with each and every lap, eventually coming home in an excellent ninth place - hot on the heels of a train of cars running between positions fifth to eighth.
The final race saw Davies again embroiled in tight combat throughout while running in sixth position, before contact from behind on the final lap saw him demoted to seventh spot when within sight of the chequered flag. The Stewards deemed the incident the fault of the following driver and Davies was promoted back to sixth place after what had proven to be a wild weekend of racing, with the Main Beach driver leaving the seaside circuit with 12th place overall from his weekend efforts.
"Qualifying was a real bummer. We really thought it was the right call at the time - alas it wasn't to be, but we gave it a crack at any rate and we would have been looking real good if it had come off. There's always carnage between position eight downwards at the start, although I survived the early laps OK but then got caught up in an incident which sent me farming my way through the outfield, damaging the front my car and forcing me to pit. Sunday morning's race was great fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed charging back through the field making some exciting passing moves. Setting the sixth fastest race lap was also pretty satisfying but I simply couldn't get by the car ahead and had to be content with eighth at the flag.
"In the final race was strong too, with battles raging all around me and it was good to be mixing it up with some of the newer spec cars. We were strong on the straights but the newer cars have more lateral grip in the corners which might have led to why I copped a hit from behind late in the race. I'm pleased the Stewards saw fit to reverse the result from the final lap contact, but unfortunately after my poor first race I was playing catch-up all weekend. Hopefully we can get some testing in soon and head to Western Australia with strong top-six form - there's a lot of racing still to come."