De Pasquale reflects on tough Pukekohe

Anton De Pasquale talks opening lap contact and a rapid Shell V-Power Racing Team repair job at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint in his latest The Distiller column, exclusive to Speedcafe.com.

Anton De Pasquale

Pukekohe was a great event, it’s such a cool track to wheel the car around and it has such a rich history.

I’ve only been there a couple of times so it’s really sad the place is closing, but you can see how much it means to the Kiwi fans when they flock in from early on Friday. You see them in town, at your hotel; there were fans everywhere, which was really cool.

The Kiwis love their motorsport, which motivates any driver. They are super passionate and they obviously want their New Zealand drivers to win, which they got with Shane on Sunday.

It really was a fitting send off. I think Pukekohe is such a good event that hopefully people go ‘oh, maybe we should keep this’.

The track is epic, you do get a little bit of reward for just ragging it, which you don’t get at all tracks – it’s just a fun lap.

The racing was was pretty hectic. We were on the bad end of a couple of things, but I imagine from the sidelines, it was a great event to watch.

Supercars is so competitive that you look back and there’s just a couple little moments that if you did differently it could have changed your whole day. That was the case for us.

I don’t think we were the fastest, but we were very close.

First race was quite good – Will and I nailed the start off the outside of our rows. We settled in with good car speed and it was all looking good, but when the pit stops began that changed the shape of the race a fair bit.

Once the back markers start firing out of the lane you’re having to make massive dive bombs on cars that are going a lap down, but they’re out on fresh tires. So it was it was pretty crazy.

Then we had a stuff up in the pits and lost a bit of time and a couple of spots. Car speed was right there from the start, it just all didn’t pan out the way that we wanted it to.

Sunday’s first race was far from ideal ending up in the fence. I basically got hung out on the outside the whole first lap, which puts you in a vulnerable position. Had contact out of the chicane which then put us in the wall.

The moment of contact. Picture: Fox Sports

It’s probably the worst to have that happen in the first race of a two-race day, because you have to try fix it in an hour or so.

Once we started looking at the damage, it was nothing too severe. It was obviously a lot of work, but our guys are awesome and they’re super efficient.

They had everything ready to go straight away by the time I got back to the garage and once the car was there they got straight into it. A few of the guys off Car # 17 came over and helped while they could, so there was a massive team effort.

It’s always touch and go because the more you more you fix the more you see, but they did an awesome job and I could go out there and finish top five in the final race.

We’ve still got a lot of promise leading into Bathurst, which will also be on the hard tire.

Bathurst is its own beast – that is our main event for the year, so we’re pretty excited for it.

For us, all eyes and focus on that now. The guys will have a good look over my car again, get ready for a test day, and then roll into Bathurst and enjoy that week.

It’s such a cool event so I’m really excited for it.

Anton

Shell V-Power Racing Team working on Car # 11