From pitlane to victory lane. Rhys Gould executed a masterful strategy and raced with intent to win the Class A and B one-hour race at Levels Raceway.
A broken front left axle in qualifying didn’t stop Gould from claiming pole position in the morning’s earlier qualifying. But it did prevent him from starting up the front as the team hastily repaired the issue on his Hyundai i30 TCR before the race.
Gould missed the window to leave the pitlane in time to take to the start.
While Gould started from the pitlane, Andre Simon took over as the new race leader.
However, Simon, who won the season-opener at Highlands a fortnight earlier, grounded to an abrupt halt on lap two.
A suspected suspension failure is to blame for his early retirement.
The safety car was deployed and promoted Scott O’Donnell into the provisional lead.
Meanwhile, Gould had latched onto the back of the field. He soon began scything his way through the slower traffic.
Gould was up to 12th by the ten-minute mark before the Signature Homes team whistled him in for his compulsory pitstop.
“We knew we had to do something different to mix it up a little bit,” Gould said.
The early stop paid dividends, and Gould began posting a flurry of rapid lap times.
Another safety car period triggered plenty of action up and down the pitlane, all of which played into Gould’s hands, and he leapt into the race lead.
From there, Gould was untouchable. With five minutes in hand, he had lapped the entire field en route to a dominant win.
“Starting from the pitlane wasn’t all that bad in the end,” he said. “Did a lot of passing, and it was something a little bit different.
“Great car and a great team. They did a great job out there today.
Mike Hall recovered from a drive-through penalty to finish second in his VW Golf TCR, which only arrived in the country a few weeks ago.
“It’s hard work out there,” Hall said. “Tough old field.”
Dennis Chapman was third following a late, costly mistake from O’Donnell. O’Donnell recovered to finish fourth.
Andrew Gibson and Paul Booth rounded out the top five.
After a podium in round one, Daniel Cropp’s race ended in retirement due to a power steering failure. He was in third at the time and in contention for a top-three finish.