Coulthard backs changes to­wards Pukekohe round

Franklin County News - - SPORT - DAVID LONG

New Zealand Su­per­cars driver Fabian Coulthard is promis­ing that this year’s Pukekohe round will be more ex­cit­ing than in 2016.

Last year there were two 100km races on the Sat­ur­day and Sun­day, with no pit stops for fuel or tyres. It re­sulted in bor­ing pro­ces­sional rac­ing, with no tac­tics and lit­tle over­tak­ing as the cars usu­ally fin­ished in the same or­der as they qual­i­fied.

Thank­fully, for the 2017 event, which takes place on Novem­ber 3-5, or­gan­is­ers have changed the sched­ule to one 200km race each day and Coulthard says it will re­sult in a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence for the driv­ers and spec­ta­tors.

‘‘It’s a fan­tas­tic change,’’ Coulthard said. ’’We saw last year that it was very dif­fi­cult to pass, ev­ery­one’s on the same tyre qual­ity, be­cause there weren’t pit­stops.

‘‘But with longer races, there will be a bit of strat­egy in­volved and that will make a big dif­fer­ence for the fans and we’ll be able to put on a bet­ter show.’’

Coulthard is ly­ing in third place in this year’s Su­per­cars cham­pi­onship, with his DJR Team Penske team-mate Scott McLaugh­lin, the cur­rent leader.

It should be a thrilling fin­ish to this year’s cham­pi­onship with Jamie Whin­cup and Shane van Gis­ber­gen both in con­tention and as Pukekohe is the penul­ti­mate round in the sea­son, it could be where the cham­pi­ons is crowned.

For Coulthard to be in con­tention at this point is a ma­jor turn­around from last year, his first with DJR Team Penske.

In 2016 he had a mis­er­able time, fin­ish­ing 12th in the cham­pi­onship with the big bud­get out­fit. But lessons were learnt dur­ing that cam­paign and the team now ri­val Triple Eight as the cat­e­gory’s pace set­ters.

‘‘If you look from where we were last year to where we are now, there’s been an im­prove­ment in leaps and bounds,’’ he said.

‘‘With longer races, there will be a bit of strat­egy in­volved and that will make a big dif­fer­ence for the fans and we'll be able to put on a bet­ter show.’’

‘‘We put in a lot of ef­fort last year and I felt like we got the car to a point where it was con­sis­tent, we just weren’t fast enough to con­tend for more podi­ums.

‘‘We put in the ground work last year and I feel that’s aided us to where we are now, but we’ve had the in­tro­duc­tion of new per­son­nel who’ve had some new ideas.

‘‘Last year we strug­gled to have some­one to make the de­ci­sions, but now with Ludo (Lacroix) as the tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor, we’ve got some­one to take us in the right di­rec­tion and that’s made a big dif­fer­ence as you can see in the re­sults.

‘‘Scotty and I as a driv­ing group are work­ing to­gether and we’ve got an engi­neer­ing group that’s work­ing to­gether too and that breeds suc­cess.’’

Fabian Coulthard was joined by Rick Kelly at the launch of the 2017 ITM Auck­land Su­perSprint Su­per­cars Cham­pi­onship at the Mar­itime Room on Princes Wharf in Auck­land last week. PHOTOSPORT

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