Anton De Pasquale has revealed the challenge which he faced in taking his first Virgin Australia Supercars Championship race win after his car was “bent” in contact with Jamie Whincup.
The Penrite Racing driver moved into the effective lead during the first Safety Car period in Race 13 of the season at the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown, but it was also then when he incurred damage which he had to drive around for the 29 laps which remained.
Whincup had been released from his pit box into the side of the #99 ZB Commodore, putting De Pasquale into the fence on driver’s left before the original race leader merged behind the eventual winner.
“Fabs (Fabian Coulthard) was stuck in behind Scotty (McLaughlin) so I had to rub up against him to get past and then Jamie came across and pushed me into the Armco,” recounted De Pasquale of the crowded pit lane.
“I didn’t want to hit him too hard because I still had a race to race; I was up on the Armco instead, wall-grinding that a little bit.
“I had to get through because I was in a position where I had to win that race to make the strategy worth it. There are a few bruises on the car but it’s all worth it.
“Things are bent, for sure. There was a bit going on at the front but these Supercars are pretty strong and we’ve done a lot of work on the front of our car to make it pretty strong, so if there’s a little bit of left hand down or right hand down, you can deal with it.
“We had a bit going on but it was OK.”
The 24-year-old’s victory was somewhat reminiscent of the podium which he took in the Saturday race at the Sydney Motorsport Park event which preceded this weekend’s Hidden Valley meeting.
Such was the tyre allocation there as it is now, De Pasquale is likely to suffer somewhat tomorrow after running on soft tyres throughout Race 13.
Asked about his team boss Barry Ryan’s “fake racing” comments back in Sydney, he responded, “I haven’t spoken to Barry about that.
“As a team and sponsors, the better you go and the more race wins you get, it’s better for the team and better for everyone here; all the crew that have been away for a couple of months.
“He’s (Ryan) spur-of-the-moment and very emotional in what he says and what he says has a lot of merit to it but the rules are the rules and we are here with the tyres we have so we have to, as a team, make the most of it and that’s what we did today.”
De Pasquale also refuted the theory that his likely struggles in Races 14 and 15 dampen the satisfaction from the Race 13 win.
“It doesn’t take the shine off the result,” he declared.
“You go to bed happy and you’re going to sleep well but you also know you’re going to have a bad day tomorrow.
“Most likely you’re going to be battling for 15th at best but we’re aware of that and that’s OK.
“The way the format is and the way the tyres are, unless you do something like that you’re not going to get a result.
“We did it today and that frees up Dave (David Reynolds, team-mate) tomorrow to have a crack so as a team, that’s the best way to go about it.”
Qualifying for the latter two races of the weekend takes place tomorrow from 11:40 local time/12:10 AEST.