With only a few adjustments after Friday practice, including a new tailshaft for the Geoff Emery car, Greg Murphy Racing looked ready to turn heads for qualifying and the first two races in Round 2 of the Dunlop V8 Supercar Development Series at Barbagallo yesterday.
A dry qualifying session saw a nervous Dale Wood waiting in pitlane in the closing stages of the session with his name in P2 on the timing screens before a 60 second flurry of times pushed him back to eighth position in his GB Galvanising / Wilson Technology VE Commodore.
"It was good early on I suppose, sitting in P2," Wood said. "I thought this will be a good result if we can be on the front row, but very quickly within about 30 seconds we dropped down the order. I'm happy enough with eighth, but you never like to say that, you're here for one thing and that's to be up the front. I think we'll be in a good position and it looks like it might rain for the first race. I'm pretty confident in the wet, we had a good run yesterday."
Emery qualified his Earthex / Wurth / NDD Commodore in 13th, while Marcus Zukanovic was 15th in his R & J Batteries car and Matt Hansen 20th in the Forpark Australia / Bossen / Australian Custom Moulders entry.
A very wet openining race and a Safety Car intervention on the first lap saw the Greg Murphy Racing cars running mid-pack for most of the race.
Wood picked up a spot early in the race before taking a slide around the back of the circuit, fortunately managing to maintain control of the car. He ended up crossing the line in 17th position.
Zukanovic and Emery swapped places during the first few laps, with Zukanovic ultimately finishing as the best of the GMR cars in 14th. Emery dropped back to 19th as the rain continued to fall on the already waterlogged track. Hansen remained composed and came home in 21st place.
The sun came out and by the time the Dunlop Series competitors had formed on the grid for Race 2, the track was mostly dry. The team made some quick setup changes to the four GMR cars during the break to match the rapidly changing conditions.
For Wood, the race went pear-shaped before he even crossed the control line. Andrew Jones stalled on the start line, and after making a superb start and overtaking a few cars, Wood moved to pass a car to the left, and clipped the side of Jones' car - destroying the left-front of the car before spearing off into the Turn 1 sand trap.
"It was a very short race for me, like a drag race," a gutted Wood said. "I got a good start actually, was trying to get through a couple of cars and I had a car to my right, so I had to move to the left, and bang there was Andy Jones, so it was as quick as that. It's disappointing, I must have hit a black cat or something because the luck just keeps rolling. The boys can't get the wheel off yet so we'll have a look tonight and see how we go for tomorrow."
The safety car led the field around the circuit for several laps before going green, but not for long as GMR's Matt Hansen took a trip into the Turn 1 sand trap and also unfortunately retired from the race.
The race returned to green for eight laps with Zukanovic crossing the finish line in 11th and Emery in 14th.
"It was a pretty good race, we made a few changes from Race 1 in the wet, anticipating a dry race as we obviously had some issues in the dry qualifying session," Zukanovic said.
"I feel good about Race 3, I think it will be a good one for us."
The Greg Murphy Racing team is on track for the third and final race of the weekend at Barbagallo Raceway from 1:05pm Western Standard Time. Grid positions are determined based on points accumulated by the drivers in Races 1 and 2, so Zukanovic will start 11th, Emery 17th, Wood 22nd and Hansen 23rd.