PERTH SUPERSPRINT HEARTBREAK
One moment in time, and one patch of oil was all that stood in the way of Shae Davies claiming his first Dunlop V8 Supercar Series podium result at Barbagallo Raceway (near Perth) last weekend. Just when things were looking really positive for the Main Beach driver, his weekend turned sour after an oil down was left without warning by the officials, resulting in the lead pack all slithering off the road unaware of the situation.
The weekend started positively when Davies put his Davbridge/MW Motorsport Falcon into a career-best fourth position in qualifying, thereafter using his pace to run competitively in third place for the majority of the race. Two positions were lost when rain arrived late in the race, but Davies had put on his best Dunlop Series showing on the undulating and demanding Barbagallo circuit, coming home in fifth spot with the race declared early due to increasingly heavy rain.
Race two saw a messy opening lap, with Davies losing one place in the mad early scramble, before a frantic top-order battle ensued with Shae right in the thick of the action. For lap after lap Davies tried to find a way by third-year Dunlop Series driver Todd Hazelwood, but try as he might - and despite numerous side-by-side attempts - he could not make the move stick. The battle took its toll, with Davies tyres starting to fade late in the race and he slipped back to seventh at the completion of 25 action-packed laps.
Fired up for the final, Davies rocketed off the line when the lights went out to complete the opening lap in an excellent fourth place, before moving into the top three with a bold pass on the third lap. Unfortunately that's where the good news ended, with an incident between a trio of backmarkers seeing one car stranded at the final corner, which is preceded by the fastest straight. Oil and water had been deposited in the braking area before the leaders arrived at the scene (some 35 seconds later) without any warning and completely unaware of the situation. One by one they slipped and slid before Shae arrived right on the bumper of the car he was pursuing, the pair spearing off into the sand trap at unabated speed.
Fortunately, Shae made it back onto the circuit, but not before losing seven spots and with a car full of sand and grit. The remainder of the race saw Shae unable to improve, his tyres very much the worse for wear from the incident and he would ultimately come home in an unrepresentative 10th place, shattered that the end result was out of his control.
"I couldn't believe we were given no warning. I was hot on the heels of Jack Le Brocq and completely blindsided as we approached the final corner - where we are doing over 260ks - and saw he was having a big moment. I must have hit the biggest patch of oil because the car just took off. Three of four other drivers followed me through the same path but that moment just cruelled my race and denied me my first Dunlop Series podium. There really should have been flags at the scene to alert us to the situation yet there was absolutely zero warning and I'm gutted by it.
"We have such a long break until the next event at Townsville in July and it would have been a great boost for the entire team to have left Western Australia with some silverware, we certainly deserved that being the case. The good thing is we have a quick car, and I will be doing all I can to maintain our competitive form next time out."