Tony D’Alberto and Dale Wood’s challenge at the Dick Smith Sandown 500 evaporated in the opening laps of the race after the #3 Team HIFLEX Ford was taken out of the event on Lap 6.
In the event’s return to Sandown, D’Alberto started from 13th place and held position during the frantic first laps, but the car’s fate was decided in the opening phase when Jim Beam Racing driver Allan Simonsen hit the rear of Supercheap Auto Racing’s Christian Klien, who bounced into D’Alberto.
The domino effect spun D’Alberto into the sand trap, falling down a lap as the Safety Car was called onto the track. Simonsen was handed a drive through penalty for his actions.
Effectively, it was the end of the #3 car’s challenge after a promising lead up to the 500km race.
In Saturday’s qualifying, D’Alberto qualified 19th before Wood finished 16th in his qualifying race. D’Alberto secured the HIFLEX car a start in the top half of the field by completing the qualifying races in 14th place. He started the race a position higher due to penalties handed to other cars.
The next event of the V8 Supercars calendar is ‘The Great Race’ – the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, to be held on October 4-7.
This year’s Bathurst 1000 marks the 50th year of endurance racing at Mount Panorama.
TONY D’ALBERTO (team driver)
“I could hear it coming, but I couldn’t do anything about it,” said Tony D’Alberto.
“I didn’t get a brilliant start, so I was happy to follow Richo as there was a fair bit of shenanigans going on in front of us.
“The next thing I knew, I was in the sand trap. Allan Simonsen ran into the back of (Christian) Klien and that was the end of us.
“We made the car a little bit nicer today. We were third in practice and it just seemed to look after its tyres a little better. It was only morning warm-up, but it was an improvement on Saturday.
“In the end, we never got a good chance to show the speed of the car.”
DALE WOOD (team co-driver)
“It was frustrating. I was there eating a banana, thinking about getting ready for my first stint, but then I saw the car was backwards in the sand trap,” said Dale Wood.
“At the time, I was trying to remain positive, hoping that we’d get a Safety Car go in our favour so we could get the lap back, but it didn’t, and it was a long day.
“The only positive is that we have saved some tyres so we’ll go to Bathurst with a lot for good rubber. That was the only positive, but definitely looking forward to Bathurst now.”
AL D’ALBERTO (team owner)
“It’s very, very disappointing to not have had the chance to get a result at Sandown,” said Al D’Alberto.
“Tony was minding his own business, getting into a rhythm but was never given the chance to show the team’s true speed.
“We’ll use this as motivation for a good result at Bathurst in a couple of weeks.”