Whitley's SsangYong Bowling Strike

SsangYong Ute driver Alexandra Whitley reviews her racing in the SsangYong Actyon Racing Series at Pukekohe over the V8 Supercars weekend. 

Round one of the SsangYong Actyon Racing Series kicked off with a bang as we were asked to be a support class for the Australian V8 Supercars at the Auckland Super Sprint at Pukekohe Park over the weekend of the 3rd-5th of November. The Waikato SsangYong was one of the fastest cars all weekend, but got caught up bowling instead of racing.

The build up to the weekend was weeks long as this is our biggest event of the year and making sure everything is done correctly is critical. Friday practice saw the Waikato SsangYong in the top 5 fastest, we made a few small changes and were confident it was going to be a cracking weekend. Qualifying 4th fastest from 29 cars was a great place to start. Race one was early Saturday morning, I got a fantastic start and slipped into 2nd place by the back straight, not long after I was in first place but was hustled back to 2nd again. It was a close and great fight in the top five cars no one giving an inch, we traded places all race and we managed to cross the finish line three wide but I came away with a podium finish of third place.

Later that afternoon was our second race, this is our reverse top 10 grid which put me off 8th for the start. The first three laps the Waikato SsangYong was on fire and I was coming through the pack I quickly made it into 5th position before being bowled from behind at the end of the main straight into SsangYong Sweeper, This is where I managed to clean strike all the signs and hurdle straight towards the fence at 170km/hour. Fortunately the sand traps did their job and pulled me up, although I was now bogged and had to be towed out. I joined the tail end of the field and made 10 positions unfortunately as I went a lap down this still placed me in last position.

With the previous race really hurting my points I started our third and final race from 10th position. This was a really tough race as it put me down the pack with all the hustle and bustle. One by one I started picking off the utes getting as high as fifth place when again coming into turn one we were three wide and the race was on. None of us wanting to give, this left me sandwiched between 2 cars. One car spun right in front of me so I quickly headed left as he started to snake of the track leaving me busy on the wheel to avoid any contact. This really hurt me as I lost a few positions but more importantly time on the track behind the leaders. I then had to fight my way back to 8th position quickly catching the front group of utes, setting one of the fastest times of the race.

Although we didn’t get the end result we wanted the Waikato SsangYong has Lighting pace and proved to be a serious contender for not only the next race but the Championship fight. There is plenty to work on over the next month to get the Waikato SsangYong back in shape for the next round. I will be racing the Super Ute in a few weeks in Taupo in the GTNZ racing series.


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