Paul Dumbrell has taken a stranglehold on the Konica V8 Supercar Series with an imperious, and controversial, clean-sweep of round three at Oran Park Raceway today.
The 19-year-old pole-sitter was Mark Skaife-like in his dominance of the round, winning all three races emphatically.
Not even the race two reverse grid, where he started from tenth, and a drive-through penalty for jumping the start in the opening encounter could derail his challenge.
"The whole team is ecstatic, we have been working really hard on the car and it is just fantastic," Dumbrell said after finishing 21 seconds clear in the final 35-minute race.
But the winners’ champagne had a bitter aftertaste. Dale Brede’s Gulf Western team has lodged a protest, claiming Dumbrell passed a number of drivers under yellow flags as he rejoined the circuit in race one.
Results of the investigation are pending.
For now, Dumbrell holds a 174-point advantage over Brede, who struggled to third overall today.
"We can now take a breath," Dumbrell said. "While collecting maximum points is vital I am now in the position where I won't take too many serious risks.”
Brede endured a forgettable weekend. The round one winner was no match for his younger rival, hampered by worn tyres and set-up difficulties.
“I knew that we would have to work hard to beat Paul this weekend but we never really came to grips with our car and to finish third is disappointing,” he said. “We really needed to be more competitive.”
With just two rounds remaining Dumbrell’s championship lead looks ominous. But Brede has vowed to fight to the death.
"We have a lot of work to do and a lot of points to gain but there are still 560 points up for grabs over the remaining two rounds,” he said.
“I definitely haven’t given up hope.”
Greg Crick also made a podium stand following his best Konica outing yet. After falling to 13th in the first heat, the veteran Taswegian clawed back through the field to finish second in the final race.
After qualifying an impressive seventh, Leanne Ferrier’s comeback weekend ended prematurely when her frail VS Commodore expired in the second race.
Funding shortfalls now have the rest of Ferrier's Konica campaign in grave doubt.
The penultimate round of the series is at Victoria’s Winton Raceway next month.
Race one results:
Race two results:
Race three results:
Ford had 5 cars in the top 10 in all three races...unfortunately the Holden was #1.