Tough opening in V8SCOPS
Having topped the Pre-Qualifying phase, the team was optimistic of a good result. However with the largest and toughest field entering the qualifying stage, the top split would always be an intense affair, especially around the streets of Montreal.
Leading the way for Altus Esports was Dayne Warren, Sam Blacklock and Ethan Warren, with team manager Simon Feigl also squeezing into the top split of 40. Having been thrown a curve ball with a different time of day than originally planned, this appeared to rattle the new crew with all testing taking place in the afternoon conditions ahead of the race. This would prove difficult for all teams however, and in the case of Altus, we didn't adapt as well as others and fell short of our expected performance. We would find ourselves in 8th (Dayne), 11th (Sam), 14th (Ethan) and 27th (Simone) on the grid.
All cars would get away to a strong start in the opening few corners, however following nose to tail brought across a slight touch from Sam, which had a cascading effect into the helpless Ethan Grigg-Gault of ERT. From that moment, things escalated further with the field being compressed with racers serving slowdowns in one of the tightest sections of the course. This unpredictability caused Ethan to inadvertantly push Sam off course, and then get caught up in the following pack. Those first couple of laps would become significant, ultimately ending Sam's race as penalties were handed out.
Simon got away to a brilliant start, gaining 9 places on lap one to sit inside the top 20, then be Top 15 by lap 3. Ethan was also putting on a strong showing before the first safety car came out, and with many in the field unaware of this due to a communications drama from race control, Ethan was smashed into rear and thrown into the wall, essentially ending his race on Lap 4.
Left in the race was the ever fast Dayne, and Simon who would battle on in a car he rarely races. Dayne started the race very strongly indeed, picking off drivers at will in the early phases, however it became apparent in these conditions that the car did not have the longevity required to maintain pace across the stint. Poor rear traction and braking performance would cripple his late stint run, before being the fuel not start entering the car on his first stop, he would lose 13 seconds to his rivals and dropping back to 25th place.
Dayne would have to drive around the issues with the car and carve his way through to limit the damage. Ultimately he would have a great final run to finish in 12th place at the end of the race, but far from where his potential looked.
For Simon, inexperience with the car and the pit strategy would prove to make the race difficult. He would cross the line in 22nd place, but feels a top 15 went amiss through unforced errors in strategy.
It certainly wasn't the debut performance we wanted in the V8 Supercar Online Premier Series, however we will fight on, we will improve in these areas, and we are looking forward to a cleaner Sunday evening of racing next time.