Tough start to Sandown for McLaughlin

| Photographer Credit: GRM

The Wilson Security Sandown 500 weekend started in a tough way for Wilson Security Racing GRM (Volvo Polestar Racing) co-drivers Alexandre Prémat and Chris Pither in the first qualifying race.

Prémat, co-driver to Scott McLaughlin, started ninth but got involved in an accident with Andrew Jones, dropping down the order to finish 22nd.

”It has been not the day that I was hoping for. I started ninth, had a good start and the car was pretty good speed-wise. I was behind Andrew Jones and I made a move on him. I was next to him and he just turned into me, so I definitely blame him for it. We just need to get a bit better balance for tomorrow and the race is long, so we are looking forward to get back in the top five,” said Prémat.

Pither, co-driver to David Wall, started 24th and moved up a couple of places in the first part of the race, only to drop down after an incident in the same corner as team mate Prémat.

“The race started pretty well and I managed to make up some places on the first laps. But it went downhill from there as I got turned around by a pretty late dive. So, I am a bit disappointed, it did some damage to the rear corner to the car and the high-speed stability wasn’t great after that. But the car felt great otherwise and I am really looking forward to tomorrow,” said Pither.

The results of the first qualifying race determined the grid positions for the second qualifying race where the regular drivers took the wheel, meaning that McLaughlin started 22nd. The Kiwi made progress during the race to climb six positions to finish 16th.

”It has been a tough day for us today. I qualified ninth, should have been in the top five but didn’t quite put my laps together. I worked my way to 16th position that was all in all a pretty good result after a tough day. Feels like we’ve got a pretty good race car and it is a long day tomorrow, so we should be all right,” said McLaughlin.

Team mate Wall started one position behind in 23rd and made a strong race as well to climb five positions to 18th position over the finishing line.

”Unfortunately I made a call in qualifying that I am kicking my self about to leave some warm front tyres on and put some green rears on that unfortunately changed the balance of the car. But we are clawing our way back up there, starting 18th tomorrow and with Chris being turned around I think we could have been even better. It is a long race tomorrow and there are a couple of things that we can tune up,” said Wall.

The grid for the main 500-kilometre race tomorrow is determined by the results of the second qualifying race, meaning grid position 16 for McLaughlin/Prémat and grid position 18 for Wall/Pither. The main race features pit stops with mandatory driver changes, starting at 13:25 local time.

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