For the first time in his Aussie Racing Car career, Brendon Pingel takes to lead of the National championship following a great performance in round 2 at Symmons Plains Tasmania on the weekend.
Brendon drove solid, mistake free, mature, strategic races and capitalised on top 5 finishes to snatch the lead of the National championship from Sydneysider Craig Woods.
For Friday’s practice Tassie turned on nasty weather, 5°, pouring rain and snowing just one hour away!! The Spirit of Lockyer team decided to sit out practice 1 and the only joined in the 2nd practice on a damp track to bed in some new brake rotors and re-familiarise with the high-speed circuit.
Saturday’s weather, just stunning!!! Warm dry conditions greeted the driver’s for their one and only qualifying session in which Brendon held down 3rd spot until 2 minutes remaining. As the session concluded Brendon secured grid 6 only .8 of a second off the lead local driver Adam Gowans.
Starting out of position 6 in race one, Brendon made a copybook start and by turn two had passed series owner Tony Quinn. Over the next 7 laps the top 5 drivers race pace, and almost identical lap times, gave the fans a thrilling spectacle. The best way to describe how close these 5 cars raced without incident was there was no more than a “struck match” between them. Brendon finished fifth only .9 of a second from the race winner. The difference in lap times for the top 5 drivers was only .18 of a second.
In race two starting out of grid 5, Brendon maintained pressure on the cars in front and again the top five drivers set the pace gapping the rest of the field. A bold late braking manoeuvre on lap eight in the long left-hand sweeper onto pit straight resulted in Brendon picking up fourth position which he comfortably maintained to the chequered flag.
In this year’s new format race three is a full reverse grid of the entire field with three separate groups starting five seconds apart. As a result of the previous race, Brendon started from the second last grid in the last group which consisted of the fastest six drivers. As the lights went out for the first group some of the second group jumped the start and the whole system became chaotic giving the race commentators from Foxtel a real headache. The fast group was unable to make up enough ground to catch up to the front of the field in the ten laps available.
With the points tallied Brendon started from grid five in the fourth race and what a race it was!!. Adam Gowans and Toowoomba’s Adam Uebergang took a narrow lead from Chamberlin, Flack and Pingel and for the next eleven laps these three drivers were never separated by more than half a second. This was a nail-biting but clean exhibition of just how close you can race Aussie Cars without incident. As the last lap board was displayed again Brendon made a sensational pass on Flack on the inside of turn two to grab fourth position. His fastest lap was only .24 of a second slower than race winner Gowans. Brendon finished fifth for the round and as a result grabbed the championship lead!!
“This was a hard-fought weekend but I am so happy to have driven strategically and to now take the lead in the championship is such a reward, not only for me, but particularly my team and especially dad for the incredible effort rebuilding the car in only ten days. My Spirit of Lockyer car was brilliant in every respect and I am humbled by the support from Allan Payne from Scotbar, Detecta Pest Control and Duff’s Fabrication from Gatton, Superior Signs and so many people in the Lockyer Valley and surrounding areas” Brendon said.