Team Kiwi Racing's determination to rebuild its damaged Ford Falcon in time to take part in Sunday's Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 was rewarded when the #021 car rolled out for the pre-race warm-up.
The black machine was badly damaged when Chris Pither hit the stranded Paul Weel Holden at speed in Friday's practice session, but TKR immediately set about a rebuild with a view to getting the uninjured driver - and team-mate Kayne Scott - to the line for the start.
The mammoth effort bore fruit when Pither joined the warm-up session on Sunday morning and, even though the car failed to get much running, all concerned felt that the biggest hurdle of the weekend had been overcome.
“At least we're out there,” team boss David John noted, “Hopefully, we've proved we've got the parts and can repair a car that's had a significant crash, not just a little touch on the wall. It will make it hard for the rest of the year; we've just got to battle through and regroup for next year now.”
A faulty fuel system was found to have stranded Pither early in the warm-up, but the driver was confident that things would get better.
“We are starting off the back of the field, but it's a long race and I'm looking forward to getting back in,” he told BigPond Sport
, “The guys have done a good job, and I think we'll be able to find some solid pace.”
It wasn't all good news for Pither, however, as the Australian motorsport federation, CAMS, decided that he was at fault in the collision that not only damaged his own car, but also left Weel in hospital. The TKR driver was fined $6000 - half of which was suspended for the remainder of the year - after it was alleged that he had not responded sufficiently for the yellow flags covering Weel's already stationary car. Video footage shows several other drivers avoiding the PWR machine before Pither arrived at speed and collected it in the area of the rear door.
“It's a bit of a tough one,” Pither said of the accusation, "I just didn't see any yellows until the one that was 100 metres from Paul's car and, at 200km/h, there was nothing I could do at that point. It's a bit of a knock for me, and it is something I have to cop, but maybe the position of the flag is something that needs to be looked at.”
There was also some late pre-race activity down at the sharp end of the field, as Ford Performance Racing was forced to change the electrics on its front-running #6 entry.
An team spokeswoman revealed that the Mark Winterbottom/Steven Richards car, which was due to start from the front row, had warned of a misfire during the warm-up, but confirmed that subsequent investigations had shown the blame lay with a faulty sensor.