Bates takes Wakefield victory

Thursday, April 14th 2011, 12:40 GMT+10:00


Tony Bates came within 15 seconds of not even making the first race of the Commodore Cup National Series, presented by Canterbury Windows and Doors, at Wakefield Park this weekend – but in a dramatic turnaround he ended up winning the round in spectacular fashion.

With his car failing to fire up, Bates had to rush to even get to the end of pit lane before the field set off for the first of three, 14-lap races contested at the 2.2km circuit outside of Goulburn this weekend.

Making it with seconds to spare, he finished sixth in that race before using the series’ new qualifying system to his advantage to win race two and put himself back into contention.

He then led from the front row in the finale’ to win comfortably and take an early lead in the one-make V8 Commodore series.

And whilst it was never really as straightforward as that, the delighted Victorian labelled the round as perhaps his ‘best ever’.

“It was a close run thing, we came to within 15 to 20 seconds of not even starting race one,” he beamed on the Wakefield Park podium.

“The car refused to fire in the garage and we barely made it out. For the first five laps of race one it was coughing and spluttering and slow as anything but it got better and we salvaged some points. With the reverse starting order for race two we went from the front and that win gave us enough points to start the finale’ from the front row.

“I think it’s probably my best drive in the series ever. It’s competitive racing and I knew guys like Marcus Zukanovic and Adam Beechey (who joined him on the podium) would be competitive so it was a satisfying weekend.”

To make the story even more dramatic, Bates’ was a late conformation for the Wakefield round and arrived at the track under-manned.

“I met a guy Saturday – Dan – who has been a big help this weekend because we didn’t have the people here I usually do,” he explained.

“He was a big help, as were the guys who prepare the car and Geoff Emery who oversees the whole operation.

“I was close to not coming this weekend,” he added. “But I sure am glad I did.”

Marcus Zukanovic was Mr. Consistency all weekend and finished second overall, with reigning champion Adam Beechey bringing his Donut King Commodore home third overall after an up-and-down weekend that saw him in the thick of the action consistently.

As ever the Commodore Cup racing was super competitive on the tight confines of Wakefield Park, Geoff Emery drawing the top spot on the grid in the qualifying ‘chook lotto’ grid draw before converting that into a race one victory in commanding fashion.

Emery won by three seconds but had led by more than five at half race distance as a Commodore Cup standard war was waged for the minors.

Adam Beechey charged from sixth to second on the opening lap and then set about valiantly defending his position for the subsequent laps, eventually being shuffled back down to fifth place at the line.

Matt Hayes was third early before engaging on Beechey and passing him for second – before then having to hold off the advances of former champion Marcus Zukanovic in the final laps of the race.

Race two featured more of the same but this time it was Bates running off into the distance. Emery had charged his way to fourth from the back of the field – the race featured a reversed grid based on the qualifying draw order – but spun on his own less than three laps from home.

Bates won race three with Zukanovic second and Beechey third.

Matt Hayes, driving the No. 6 San Marco Italian Restaurant sponsored car, was super quick all weekend but was unlucky to not score a better result, ending the weekend seventh overall after tackling the final race without power-steering. He can take come consolation, however, from having one of the fastest cars of the weekend after smashing the six-year old Wakefield Park lap record by a substantial margin in race two.

It was a short lived record, however; as a fired up Geoff Emery re-set it in the third race before his car succumbed to mechanical issues and failed to finish.

With Zukanovic having set the benchmark earlier in the day during race one, the record was hit from pillar to post all weekend and ended up being bested by eight cars across the three races.

The next round of the Commodore Cup National Series – to be sponsored by Menzel Glass – will be held on the renowned Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst on the Easter / ANZAC day long weekend.

The Event will feature a pair of two-driver mini-endurance races with a selection of ‘name’ drivers from V8 Supercar competition – amongst other fields – set to enter the round as co-drivers to established Commodore Cup elite.

1. Tony Bates ( 135
2. Marcus Zukanovic (Action Racing) 131
3. Adam Beechey (Donut King Racing) 115
4. Adam Lloyd (Adams Auto Electrics) 114
5. Ross McGregor (Westcoast Widows) 105
6. Geoff Emery (NDD) 103
7. Matt Hayes (San Marco Italian Restaurant) 101
8. Chris Stevenson (Aerial Motors Racing) 99
9. Matt Chick (Renaissance Homes) 99
10. Josh Hughes (Octane Alley) 85
11. Danny Buzadzic (Western General Body Works) 84
12. Graeme Meer (Aquacity Pool & Spa) 81

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