Gatton Racer Brendon Pingel had a flying start to the Aussie Racing Cars races at Mt Panorama before the track was closed after a major V8 Supercar crash.
Pingel qualified in the top three for the first race on Friday, going within a fraction of a second of securing his first pole position at the iconic race track near Bathurst, in central New South Wales.
With the first race of the weekend held early on Friday, pole sitter Maurice Masini grabbed an early lead from fourth starting Adrian Flack, who was gifted the position when second placed James Abela suffered a failure at the race start.
Making the most of the cool, thick air to generate extra horsepower, Pingel held third place initially, despite losing close to 30km/h in top speed with the fitment of the mandatory high downforce aerodynamic body kit.
Using the slipstream of the two cars ahead of him down the long Conrod Straight to stake his claim for the race lead Pingel not only closed the gap to to the leaders but was able to lower the five-year-old lap record for the class.
With just one lap remaining, Pingel was close on the tail of Masini and Flack, when Flack hit the rear of Masini's car, dropping himself to third with damaged body work, and leaving Pingel just short of claiming his first race win at Mt Panorama.
After receiving a 'success penalty' for his efforts, with officials fitting an air restrictor to reduce engine power on the leading cars, Pingel was lowered to ninth starting spot for the second race when the top ten finishers were 'inverted' for a partial reverse grid event.
Unfortunately, the second race was cancelled after a major practice crash involving V8 Supercar driver Chaz Mostert, which saw his car ride the concrete wall at the top of the 'Dipper' corners, with the Aussie Racing Cars reduced to just three races for the weekend.
Pingel's next race will be Saturday (October 10) when he will again grid up in ninth position, alongside first race winner Masini.
"The Spirit of Lockyer Holden Cruze has been tremendous since we arrived, right on the pace every time I go out on track, I am grateful to the Derek Pingel Racing crew for their efforts in getting the car perfectly balanced," Pingel said.
"Qualifying went almost perfectly, we got a good tow down the mountain with Masini, which helped me get into the top three, and then I was able to track down Masini and Flack in the race, and come away with second."
Although disappointed at the cancellation of the second race, Pingel said he was glad to see Mostert was not seriously injured, and he is keen to secure more points to continue extending his overall lead in the championship.
"You don't like to see anyone crash, and certainly not that heavily, but our Spirit of Lockyer Cruze is in perfect order, it will be a challenge with the air restrictor fitted, but I am confident of a good result in race two, which will give me a strong start for the final race on Saturday afternoon.
"The team is tremendous, and we are getting plenty of support from the Lockyer Valley all the time, I would like to thank everyone for their backing, and I am determined to bring another trophy back from this weekend."
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