David Sieders’ plans to take out the 2011 Auto One V8 Ute Series – protected by Armor All were sent into a spin during the penultimate round of the season at Sandown Raceway this weekend, 18-20th November 2011.
Despite a perfect start to the points’ sessions for the weekend, mechanical issues on Saturday, coupled with unnecessary contact on Sunday, have combined to allow Championship Leader, Chris Pither, to extend his margin to 55 points over the third-placed Australian Industrial Supplies Ute of David Sieders.
“Coming into this round we knew we had to just bank as many points as possible to chip away at [Chris] Pither’s lead,” said Sieders, “we were off to a great start with maximum points in qualifying, but three races later and we’ve let him get another eight points on us, which is not going to help”.
“There may only be one round left, but there’s still 128 points up for grabs, and Homebush can be quite treacherous, so we’re by no means out of the hunt at this stage…it’ll just be a lot harder to get it done [win the Championship] from here.”
In Race One, Sieders overcompensated for the wet conditions on Pole and found himself following Cameron McConville through the first turn. Joined by his Sieders Racing stable-mate, Andrew Fisher, on lap two, the pair had pulled a gap from fourth, and swapped positions on lap four when Sieders went through the final turn.
On lap five, a safety car was triggered to retrieve the car of Peter Burnitt, and with the AIS National Ute suffering severe understeering Sieders was unable hold off Ryhs McNally and Ryal Harris after the restart.
Although able to pick up one place when the cars in front of him came together on the second last lap, Sieders lost the spot to Grant Johnson on the final turn of the race, passing the chequered flag in sixth.
“I had a visibility issue early on with the windscreen fogging up, but I was battling some pretty severe understeer all race, and actually went off the track four times,” said Sieders, “after the race we found that the front shocks were completely seized and the throttle was partially stuck, with the car idling at 2000 RPM, so it just wanted to drive through the corners”.
The Top 14 finishing positions were inverted for Race Two, which saw Sieders starting off position nine, and despite a good start, he found himself backing off through the first turn of the race as he was on the outside of a three-wide run, and had dropped back to 12thby the end of the first lap.
Sieders’ weekend was about to get worse when, on lap four, he was punted off the track at turn one by Nandi “Mr Damage” Kiss, who then turned Sieders around three turns later and drove himself into the wall on the exit of turn four, and had had his bonnet up from the initial contact.
Forced to race back through the field, Sieders took advantage of the Safety Car that was out to retrieve Kiss’ car, and had a quick return to pit lane to address the damage before rejoining the back of the field, where he proceeded to pass 13 cars in five laps, to finish back in 16thposition.
“I had no grip at the start of that race [two], and the car had finally started to come on when I got turned around by Nandi [Kiss],” said Sieders.
“I had a run into Dandenong Road [turn eight] and was driving underneath Nandi when he just chopped in front of me, and I was lucky to keep the car straight,” explained Sieders, “he must have taken exception to it because I got past him pretty easily heading onto the main straight, but he punted me off at turn one, then exiting turn four he came and spun me right around”.
“To be coming at that speed with your bonnet blocking your vision, you have to question whether that last contact was deliberate…either way it was completely reckless and the stewards excluded him from the rest of the weekend as a result.”
Aggregate points from races one and two saw Sieders start from grid position #10 for the final session of the weekend, and he was under pressure straight away from Ryal Harris.
Heeding the instructions of his Team, Sieders allowed Ryal Harris to get past him on lap three, and one lap later Sieders was able to capitalise on a move gone bad by the VIP Petfoods entry that sent Harris and Charlie O’Brien off the track at turn 8, and despite chasing down a three second gap in six laps, Sieders was unable to advance further and finished seventh.
“The car was a lot better during that race, but I still don’t think we had it right,” said Sieders, “when the Team said to let Harris go and let him tussle with Charlie O’Brien, I wasn’t going to argue, and it played out just like we expected”.
Sieders remains in third place for the ENZED Drivers’ Championship, but has moved to within 10 points of second place, with the final round to take place in two weeks’ time in Sydney, 2-4th December 2011.
“We have one last shot at the Championship, and it’s on our home track, so we’ll be looking to dominate the round and hopefully snatch that title in front of a large crowd full of family and friends.”