Sunday, Oct 13 09:06am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Tom Alexander bounces back from Bathurst dramas

A double dose of bad luck set the tone for Tom Alexander in the ECB SuperUtes Series, but the Ross Stone Racing driver managed to bounce back at Mount Panorama.

Qualifying promised plenty for Alexander who had been setting top five times in Thursday’s practice sessions. However, when it came to setting a chart-topping time, the engine in his Isuzu D-MAX let go.

Nearly four seconds off the pole position time Alexander had to start Race 1 from ninth in the 14-car grid. A well and truly wet circuit greeted the grid for the first race, which was led by the Mitsubishi Triton duo of Cameron Crick and Elliot Barbour.

There was drama almost immediately out of Hell Corner. While Ben Walsh managed to steal second lead into Turn 1, there was chaos behind. Nathan Pretty fishtailed his way out of the turn and spun in the mid-pack. Ryal Harris managed to avoid the out of control Toyota Hilux, but Alexander wasn’t as lucky.

Alexander slammed into the side of the spinning ute ahead. Several scattered and took to the grass, but Alexander was worst off as he fell to the back of the top 10.

Second-place starter Barbour was an early casualty with mechanical problems but teammate Crick managed to overcome Walsh to take the Race 1 win. Despite the spin, Pretty managed to make up ground to take third in the race. Harris was fourth, Joshua Anderson fifth and Alexander sixth.

Race 2 brought plenty of drama, but a better result for Alexander. Having started from the third row, Alexander hustled his way into the lead on Lap 1. He never looked back with the lead in hand halfway through the lap.

There was plenty of drama behind him though. The first big incident saw contact between Nathan Pretty and Graham Edwards. The latter got sent into a high-speed spin and slammed head-on with the concrete wall on the approach to The Chase. The race stayed green, fortunately, but the carnage continued.

A late-race incident saw Cameron Crick collide with Ben Walsh in the braking zone at The Chase. The pair spun and then Bayley Walsh slammed into the stranded Crick.

The race was brought to an early end, but Alexander was out to an unassailable lead. Craig Woods claimed second while Nathan Pretty was third. In total there were six DNFs, the biggest being championship combatant Ryal Harris who scored no points.

With a big free kick in the standings, Alexander looked to capitalize on Harris’ misfortune in the third and final race.

A win looked like an early possibility, but Alexander was sent off the road early on in proceedings. He had to recover and made his way up to third. Pretty managed to take the win ahead of Crick, whose team had done a mammoth effort to get his ute fixed for the race.

With sixth, first and third across the three races, Alexander extended his championship lead out to 39 points. Crick moved to second and Walsh to third while Harris fell to fourth after he was unable to start the final race.

“We had really good pace in that race – to come away from the weekend with a lap record at Bathurst is cool,” Alexander said.

“Unfortunately I tangled with Ben in the Chase, but I had the pace to come back through to third. Championship-wise, we’re very happy with our position, but there’s still a long way to go.”

The seventh round of the season will take place on 15-17 October as part of the Gold Coast 600 support card.


Photo: Matthew Paul