Tekno searches for answers after QR disaster
Tekno Autosports has been left to investigate the reasons behind a disastrous run of form that appears to have put paid to Shane van Gisbergen’s championship chances.
Van Gisbergen has dropped 350 points to championship leader Mark Winterbottom in just two events, crashing from fifth to ninth in the standings, now 579 adrift of the Prodrive Ford.
Saturday saw a strong fourth in the opening heat followed by the Kiwi’s first race retirement since October, 2013, which was caused by a cracked gearbox case on the grid.
Sunday’s race then yielded a dismal 21st place finish, some 72 seconds off the win, after struggling for pace throughout the 200km journey.
Equally alarmingly, the Darrell Lea Holden had qualified just 22nd and 23rd for Races 19 and 20 respectively, with the driver complaining bitterly of a lack of grip.
When approached by Speedcafe.com post-race, Van Gisbergen declined to comment on the situation until the team has determined whether a mechanical fault played a part in the lack of speed.
The struggle followed an equally mysterious demise in Townsville’s Sunday race, where the 26-year-old fell from sixth to 20th after a sudden loss of grip less than 20 laps from home.
Just the second meeting for a new chassis, Townsville also saw the team’s entire Friday dogged by a persistent vibration which was eventually traced to a tailshaft issue.
Tekno will undergo an in-house debrief at its Stapylton workshop on Tuesday before joining technical partner Red Bull Racing Australia for further post-event analysis later in the week.
“We’re not going to find the answers until we go into an analysis of what happened,” team manager Steve Hallam told Speedcafe.com in the Ipswich paddock on Sunday.
“Until then there’s not much to say.”
Curiously, Tekno’s season has been somewhat of a mirror to Red Bull’s, with the single-car customer outfit starting strongly before dipping as the main squad’s fortunes have improved.
While Van Gisbergen’s title hopes are in tatters, the driver can at least take heart from Tekno’s strong end to the 2014 season.
Van Gisbergen and team owner/co-driver Jonathon Webb finished third in the 2014 Pirtek Enduro Cup, helping the former to an eventual second in the overall standings.
“We just need to focus on a regular delivery of solid results,” added Hallam when asked of resurrecting the team’s season.
Tekno’s horror run comes as Webb continues to work on securing a sponsorship package and driver for next season, when Van Gisbergen will depart for Red Bull.
The 31-year-old Webb had his first steer of a V8 Supercar in almost six months during co-driver practice last Friday, but has already ruled himself out of returning full-time.