DJR Experiences the Highs & Lows of the Bathurst 1000
Dick Johnson Racing has experienced the best and worst that the famous Mt Panorama can throw up, but the 2014 chapter will go down as one of the toughest ever for the iconic Queensland team.
Both the Wilson Security Racing Falcons of Scott Pye / Ash Walsh and David Wall / Steve Johnson had had some dramas in the lead up to today’s 161 lap race, however after the final practice session and early morning warm up, all four drivers were confident that they had good race packages.
In front of a huge crowd, the 25 car field blasted away and the two Wilson Security / DJR cars were indeed on the move up the field. As the race headed towards the first round of pit stops, the DJR engineers split the strategies pitting David Wall on lap 12 and Scott Pye on Lap 20.
Walsh was in the #16 Ford and Wall stayed in the #17 after the first round of stops and by Lap 50 the team were really starting to show the promise that had been so evident at the Sandown 500. Walsh had moved up to a brilliant P4 and Stevie J was just knocking on the Top 10. The DJR Fords were running good lap times and the drivers were confident that the positions could be maintained.
Walsh was back in the pits on Lap 57 to hand over to Pye, but the team’s great run was to suffer a huge setback. One of the real problems of the weekend was the track breaking up at the entry to the tough Turn 2. Pye was totally caught out by the track condition and went straight ahead into the tyre barriers. Quick thinking by Scott got the car going and he was soon back in the pits where the DJR crew went to work. The problem at Turn 2 led to a Red Flag and full race stoppage being called on Lap 61.
Steve Johnson meantime had been also moving up the field and would be in a strong 3rd place when he followed the Safety Car back to the grid under the Red Flag. Pye was in the Pit Lane and the stoppage gave the crew time to effect repairs to the damaged #16 Wilson Security / PAYCE entry.
As the field got underway again Stevie J pulled a great move on Tim Slade and moved into the lead. The crowd erupted on Pit Straight as the famous DJR #17 led the train of cars, but it was short lived as Steve had a transmission failure at Sulman Park spinning the car and ending Johnson and Wall’s fine run.
Just six laps later, Pye had a tyre delaminate on Conrod pitching the battered Falcon into the wall and ending Scott and Ash’s race as well.
The hard work and performance of the DJR team paid little dividends as the team started packing up before half race distance.
The Gold Coast 600 is the next event in two weeks time.
Scott Pye – Wilson Security Racing Falcon #16
“It is so disappointing for the whole team to see the car run so high and then end up in a crash. The tyre delaminated. It wasn’t a flat as you would know straight away. I arrived at the end of Conrod and the whole right rear tyre had come off the rim and turned me hard left into the wall. Nothing was rubbing so I must have cut it on something.
“I think the Red Flag should have been called earlier as it was obvious that there was a major issue at Turn 2 as there were a lot of cars hitting the wall. The track had changed so much from my first stint it was like hitting oil.
“Really disappointed as Ash and I had a really good car and we were up the front on merit.”
Ash Walsh - Wilson Security Racing Falcon #16
“We have had no luck today with two incidents finally putting us out. I thought we might be back in it after the Red Flag but a cut tyre ended our day with Scotty having a big moment at the bottom of Conrod.
“I was trying to stay in the Top 5 during my stint as well as saving some fuel, so the car was going very well and I was confident we could stay in the lead group. Not the result we were looking for but we will fight on at the Gold Coast.”
David Wall - Wilson Security Racing Falcon #17
“A very disappointing finish to Bathurst. The race to that point had gone really well. We pitted early and it paid dividends. We were in good shape when I handed over to Steve and we were in 3rd place at the Red Flag.
“To grab the lead in the retro livery Wilson Security Falcon was great and it looked like we could hold that position before the problem Steve had. We need some luck to swing our way but we will know we take a competitive car to the Gold Coast.”
Steve Johnson - Wilson Security Racing Falcon #17
“We had worked hard during the race to get the car into a good position. We were right on our Pit Stop strategy and the car was very good to drive. We were sitting third at the Red Flag and grabbed the lead at the restart.
“I am not sure what has gone wrong but something has happened to the transmission and it just let go coming up under the tree and I had a box of neutrals. It is really hard to catch when you have no drive. I tried to steer it off the wall as best I could but it tagged it.
“It is a real shame for the Wilson Security / DJR boys. It was a really good feeling to be leading the race at that point.”