Lockyer Valley racer Brendon Pingel dominates after crash
GATTON racer Brendon Pingel dominated the opening round of the Aussie Racing Cars 2015 title, despite a heavy crash in the first race.
The series travelled to New Zealand for the first round, held at the Highland Motorsport Park circuit in the country's South Island.
"I had never raced here, this is a new facility and the first time the series has come here, so I had to learn the track, and try and work out a setup for the Spirit of Lockyer Holden Cruze," Pingel said.
Setting fast times as soon as he hit the track, Pingel dominated the field with consistent fastest lap times.
Up against Andrew Waite, NZ V8 champion and resident Highland Park driver with over 5000 laps experience of the circuit, Pingel qualified fastest overall by 0.4 seconds.
He remained comfortably faster than the next fastest Australian driver as he claimed his first ever Aussie Racing Cars pole position.
His good form continued into the opening laps of the first of four races, holding the lead until he was hit twice from behind by another driver, spinning his car into the path of Tony Quinn and Adam Uebergang, with the resulting crash severely damaging Pingel's car and leaving him with a minor elbow injury.
Frantic work between races saw the Spirit of Lockyer repaired using 'hundreds of zip ties and rolls of race tape', however the chassis turned out to be slightly bent and two wheels were destroyed, leaving Pingel to race on worn tyres from the 2014 Bathurst meeting.
Pingel was relegated to the rear of grid for not finishing the first race, but clawed through the field to finish seventh and set a new lap record, of 1 minute 51.96 seconds, the only driver to break the 1 minute 52 second mark.
With the entire field reversed for the third race, Pingel found himself starting 18th, however a massive rain storm saw organisers start the field in three groups.
Pingel made the most of the conditions, and charged through to finish second, accumulating vital points for the weekend.
Starting eighth in the final race, Pingel was instantly on the pace, taking advantage of two safety car periods to be second starting the final lap, sweeping into the lead with half a lap remaining to take the win.