FV8 drivers show Commodore Cup class

Tony Bates took a fine round win at Wakefield Park

Tony Bates took a fine round win at Wakefield Park

Fujitsu V8 Supercars drivers Tony Bates, Marcus Zukanovic and Geoff Emery showed their class during the opening round of the 2011 Commodore Cup National Series.

After comfortable victories in Races 2 and 3, it was Bates who emerged with the points lead – a dramatic turnaround after a day that began with the Sports Alive Commodore struggling to fire-up prior to Race 1.

Having joined the field with only seconds to spare, Bates made his way from the back of the grid to sixth over the opening 14 lap encounter, before driving from the front-row to victory in Race 2.

Zukanovic led the opening laps of the finale, but was unable to hold off the advances of Bates, who slipped by at the second last corner on Lap 6.

Bates described the weekend as his best ever, and later spoke of how close he had come to missing Race 1 altogether.

“It was a close run thing, we came to within 15 to 20 seconds of not even starting race one,” he said.

“The car refused to fire in the garage and we barely made it out. For the first five laps of race one it was coughing and spluttering and slow as anything but it got better and we salvaged some points.

“With the reverse starting order for race two we went from the front and that win gave us enough points to start the finale’ from the front row.

“I think it’s probably my best drive in the series ever. It’s competitive racing and I knew guys like Marcus Zukanovic and Adam Beechey (who joined him on the podium) would be competitive so it was a satisfying weekend.”

To make the story even more dramatic, Bates’ was a late conformation for the Wakefield round and arrived at the track under-manned.

“I met a guy Saturday – Dan – who has been a big help this weekend because we didn’t have the people here I usually do,” he explained.

“He was a big help, as were the guys who prepare the car and Geoff Emery who oversees the whole operation.

“I was close to not coming this weekend,” he added. “But I sure am glad I did.”

Marcus Zukanovic finished second overall after a consistent weekend that netted a third and two second place finishes.

By contrast, reigning champion Adam Beechey had an up-and-down weekend in the Donut King Commodore – eventually classified third overall after fifth, fourth and third place race finishes.

Having drawn pole position in Saturday’s ‘chook lotto,’ Emery won Race 1 by three seconds, before charging from the back of the grid to fourth in Race 2.

The five-time series winner’s weekend ended on a sour note however – pulling off at Turn 2 with a mechnical issue late in the race.

Matt Hayes, driving the No. 6 San Marco Italian Restaurant sponsored car, showed impressive pace but was unlucky to not score a better result, ending the weekend seventh overall after tackling the final without power-steering.

The next round of the Commodore Cup National Series – to be sponsored by Menzel Glass – will be held on the renowned Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst as part of the Bathurst Motor Festival on the Easter / ANZAC day long weekend, and will feature a pair of two-driver mini-endurance races.

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