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Krause Bridges The Gap on Wyhoon in ATCC Championship Chase
Victory in the fourth round of the Citilink Construction Group Australian Touring Car Challenge (ATCC) at Queensland Raceway last weekend (June 3 – 4) has seen David Krause close the gap in the ATCC Championship point standings to leader Terry Wyhoon.
The Sydneysider, who steers an ex Perkins Motorsport VS Commodore V8 Supercar, took the round honours in strong fashion after recording consistent Top 3 finishes of a third, a win and a second in all three races, whilst Krause’ main threats in the form of Ryan McLeod (VX Commodore V8 Supercar), Wyhoon (VT Commodore V8 Supercar) and Brad Lowe (EL Falcon V8 Supercar) all suffered various forms of misfortune.

Krause was a deserving winner nonetheless due to being at the pointy end of the field throughout the weekend. After finishing the opening race in fourth, current ATCC Championship leader Wyhoon suffered rear axle failure in the Dean Neville owned VT Commodore on the opening lap of the second race. Some hasty work by the Image Racing team saw Wyhoon take his place on the grid for race three where he finished in third.

Both McLeod and Lowe made their first appearances in ATCC for 2006. McLeod, the son of 1987 Bathurst 1000 winner Peter, was steering a former Holden Young Lions VX Commodore and was quick from the outset around Queensland Raceway by qualifying on pole position, winning the opening race and finishing third race two. Misfortune struck in the third race for McLeod after suffering power steering dramas and retired costing him a likely round victory.

For Lowe, who was making his second ATCC round after competing in the opening round back in 2004 with Mumbo Racing, jumped into the EL Falcon V8 Supercar of reigning ATCC Champion Garry Willmington and was quite impressive. After qualifying second, 21-year-old Lowe finished second in the opening race, but for race two and three endured gearbox problems in the ex Tony Longhurst car and as a result finished in fifth and 12th respectively.

Earlier in the weekend it was McLeod who paced the field in Saturday’s qualifying session with a best lap of 1:15.3823 around the 3.13 kilometre circuit ahead of Lowe (1:15.8559), Krause (1:16.6246), BMW 320i Super Tourer driver Luke Searle (1:17.0011) and in fifth was Wyhoon (1:17.0316). The best of the Future Tourers was Amin Chahda (GT BA Falcon Future Tourer) in ninth outright with a 1:20.4044.

The weekends of Neil Byers, Bryce Peter-Budge, the returning Brendan Julius and Dean Neville all suffered premature endings. For Byers (Nissan Primera Super Tourer) he was forced to head back home due to sudden personal commitments, while Peter-Budge (Peugeot 406 Super Tourer), Julius (Toyota Camry Super Tourer) and Neville (VS Commodore Future Tourer) all suffered engine issues.

In the opening race, a 5-lap scratch event, McLeod blitzed the field from start to finish easily defeating Lowe, Krause, Wyhoon and Searle in the process. After qualifying 14th John Vergotis (AU Falcon V8 Supercar) made his way up to finish in seventh behind Citilink Construction Group proprietor and ATCC Championship sponsor Bruce Oaklands (VS Commodore V8 Supercar) and ahead of Peter Kelly (BMW 320i Super Tourer), Shelton Loughrey (EL Falcon V8 Supercar) and Chahda in 10th.

Queensland’s Daniel Natoli made his first appearance in the ATCC but after qualifying 15th in the Mumbo Racing Ford Mondeo Super Tourer he failed to start the opening race due to a clutch malfunction.

The second race of the weekend was marred by two safety car periods that saw most of the 7 lap distance completed behind the safety car. Without a lap completed Wyhoon suffered rear axle fail and this brought out the safety car as the recovery crew removed his stricken VT Commodore from the track. At the restart it was Luke Everson (EF Falcon Future Tourer) who led away and was closely followed by Natoli (who had started from the pit lane due to his clutch dramas).

Natoli on the fourth lap made his way into the lead after getting by Everson and soon after the safety car was deployed due to Searle beaching himself in the sand trap. This occurred after Vergotis and Searle made contact which saw the latter come off second best. A closely following Loughrey was forced to take evasive action to evade contact with Vergotis by going into the sand trap. Although Loughrey was able to avoid getting beached in the sand trap he retired back to the pits after damaging the radiator of the ex Paul Weel car.

Once the Searle car was removed from the sand trap he was able to re-join the tail of the field for the one lap sprint to the chequered flag. With Natoli leading, the long straights of Queensland Raceway were going to make it difficult for the Gold Coast based driver to hold out the V8 Supercars.

Despite his best efforts Natoli was unable to contain the pace of the V8 Supercars and dropped down the field. At the fall of the chequered flag Krause took the victory followed by Vergotis, McLeod, Kelly, Lowe, Oaklands, Natoli, Everson, Chahda, and in 10th was Andrew Gillespie (AU Falcon XR8 II Future Tourer).

It was all the Mumbo Racing Ford Mondeo Super Tourer of Natoli in the third and final race of the round which saw him rocket away from his front starting handicap position, although having to start from the pit lane, and was never headed despite the field closing in on him in the final stages of the nine lap journey.

Krause secured his second round victory of the year with second place behind Natoli in the third race with Wyhoon getting up for third place ahead of Vergotis, an impressive Gillespie, Kelly, Searle, Chahda, Oaklands and Philip Groeneveld (VS Commodore Future Tourer) in 10th.

Power steering problems saw McLeod retire back to the pit enclosure on the fourth lap.

The overall round podium saw Krause ahead of Vergotis and Natoli, whilst the class honours were claimed by Krause (V8 Supercars), Kelly (Super Tourers) and Chahda (Future Tourers).

Round five of the Citilink Construction Group Australian Touring Car Challenge travels to Adelaide International Raceway in South Australia on July 8 – 9.

To keep up-to-date with the latest news and information on the ATCC visit their official website: www.TouringCarChallenge.com

Written by Daniel Powell
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