Nick Ross and the Concept Motorsport crew overcame the blowing of an engine in Saturday’s qualifying session to be back on the pace and running with the leaders for Sunday’s competition at the ITM 500 held at Pukekohe Park Raceway last weekend.
His best result of the weekend was a fifth place in the final race where the TOTAL Lubricants Nissan Altima was on the pace with the rest of the pack and showing promise for the upcoming round at Hampton Downs on the weekend of 28-29 November.
In Saturday morning’s test Ross was coming down the straight when the car for no apparent reason stopped. After investigating it seems the engine had two conrods poking through the top of it requiring an overnight engine transplant for the Altima.
“We had just got on top of the car and were pulling out some good lap times – I was running second with 10 minutes to go in the sesssion when it happened.” said Ross.
Ross was forced to miss the first race of the weekend with not enough time for the crew to fit the second engine for race one on Saturday afternoon .
Ross was on fire in the final race of the weekend however when he was fighting for second place behind Holden ST driver Craig Baird and looking for his first podium of the new season.
A push from another competitor followed by a harrowing incident up the hill leading into Pukekohe’s infamous home straight did not go well for Ross who lost time and position.
Ross found himself down a few spots due to both incidents yet maintained a creditable fifth place holding his own over a hard pushing Jason Bargwanna following in sixth.
“I didn’t get off the line as well as I would have liked to and later lost a little rear end grip. One of the others dropped up inside me at the hairpin and pushed me wide into the grass and I lost a couple of places.” said Ross.
An incident which could have gone horribly wrong for the entire field of NZ Touring Cars resulted in some shaking up of places for some when Angus Fogg spun at a critical and dangerous part of the home straight partially blocking the circuit as the pack hurtled up over the hill.
It was credit to top drivers that there was no further incident other than Alyssa Clapperton taking evasive action electing to spin her Holden TL rather than plough into the side of Foggy’s Holden ST.
“Foggy decided to spin coming up over the hill and I had to jam on the anchors to try and miss where he was. I managed to miss him but lost another couple of places – rather that than going up into the side of him, we must be doing around 200kph coming up there.” said Ross.
Action was aplenty at the weekend where earlier in the day Ross was caught up in an incident where another driver spun causing an incident where the Nissan’s front splitter was damaged.
The matter was promptly dealt with by the Concept crew resulting in Ross taking 13th place in race two.
“I was able to keep going but after a couple of laps a hole was worn into the dragging splitter and it nearly put me into the wall. I had to take the car in where the team strapped it up so we could get some valuable points.” said Ross.
“We are happy with the car and we feel we are closer with the handling of the car since Taupo and getting on pace with the others. The crew are a well oiled machine and the whole event was awesome.” he said.
The NZ Touring Cars next head to Hampton Downs Motorsport Park for the third round in the brand new series before the Christmas break followed by the South Island leg of their season.