Zukanovic Wins the Battle, Parker Wins the War
16/06/2008 at 4:20:06 AM:

Fujitsu V8 Supercar driver and former Commodore Cup champion Marcus Zukanovic has taken overall honours in Round 2 of the Menzel Glass Commodore Cup national series at Phillip Island. Zukanovic qualified on pole position and won Races 1 and 3, with third-place in the weekend’s second, top-10 reverse-grid race, enough to give him his first overall Commodore Cup round-win since the Bathurst 12-hour support event in April 2007.

However, Nick Parker was the weekend’s big winner in terms of the series pointscore. Parker finished second overall, including taking his maiden Commodore Cup race-win in Race 2. Parker’s fine weekend elevated him from seventh to second in the series, just five points off the lead.

Jason Domaschenz finished third for the weekend, his third podium-finish from his last three starts in the series, while fourth overall for Adam Lloyd was enough for the VH Commodore driver to take the overall series-lead after a string of consistent finishes; Lloyd is the only driver to have finished every race this year in the top-five. It was a good way for Lloyd to farewell his antique VH; Phillip Island was the last round for the elderly machine, with a brand-new VS to be on-track for the next round at Eastern Creek.

Former Australian Formula Ford and NZV8 driver Jason Leifting made a superb Commodore Cup debut driving an ex-Tony Bates Commodore, finishing fifth for the weekend ahead of Josh Hughes, who scored his best overall result so far in the category. Seventh place for Phil Brock elevated him to fourth on the points-table, while Michael Tancredi finished eighth overall after a strong run to second in Race 1, followed by a wheel falling off in Race 2. A solid recovery drive in Race 3 kept Tancredi only a handful of points behind Lloyd and Parker in the standings.

The next round of the Commodore Cup national series is at Eastern Creek, Sydney, July 12-13.

No-one was surprised when Marcus Zukanovic topped the opening practice session, recording a time more than half-a-second quicker than second-placed Jason Domaschenz. Nick Parker was the best of the title-contenders in third-fastest, ahead of Michael Tancredi and Adam Lloyd.

Nick Parker made some gains after practice to set the fastest time in the opening qualifying session, only to be excluded from the session after scrutineering when his car was found to be four kilograms underweight.

Parker continued his rapid form in the second session, until Zukanovic bounced back with a quick time on the last lap of the session to snare pole-position. Parker qualified on the front-row beside a V8 Supercar driver for the second meeting in a row, with Jason Domaschenz third ahead of impressive Commodore Cup debutant Jason Leifting. Tony Bates qualified in the top-five in his return to the category, while Lloyd was sixth ahead of Tancredi, who was struggling to gain time on new tyres. Nathan Collins, Josh Hughes and Phil Brock rounded out the top-10, while Ross McGregor was unable to repeat the pace he displayed at Oran Park, ending up a lowly 13th on the timesheets.

Marcus Zukanovic’s father Mick was lucky not to be fined by the stewards for pit-lane speeding after sprinting back to the pit-garage after the session.

Race 1
As in the first Oran Park race, Nick Parker made a brilliant start and led the opening lap of the race around a very wet Phillip Island circuit. Unfortunately for Parker, a loose plug-lead caused the engine in his Commodore to drop a cylinder, allowing Marcus Zukanovic, Jason Domaschenz and a fast-starting Michael Tancredi to overtake him.

Tony Bates fell outside the top-10 after an early incident. Zukanovic was able to pull away in front, while Tancredi and Domaschenz became involved in a physical battle for second place, involving some contact and a few off-track excursions in Southern Loop, the Honda Hairpin and Siberia.

Zukanovic ultimately won the race by around 10 seconds from Tancredi and Domaschenz, with Nick Parker fourth in his V7 Commodore. Adam Lloyd continued his consistent run with fifth, Josh Hughes scored his best-ever race-result with sixth, followed by Phil Brock, Allan Hill and Jason Leifting. Bates recovered from the early incident to finish 10th and score pole for the second top-10 reverse-grid race.

Race 2
Adam Lloyd worked his way up to the race-lead from sixth on the grid, but was overtaken by Nick Parker on the opening lap. From there, Parker pulled away and was never headed.

The safety-car was deployed on lap five when Michael Tancredi lost a wheel heading into MG corner, and the race was declared after seven laps. Parker took the win from Jason Domaschenz and Marcus Zukanovic, with Jason Leifting continuing his strong Commodore Cup debut with fourth, ahead of the ultra-consistent Adam Lloyd.

Race 3
The grid positions for Race 3 were determined based on combined points from Races 1 and 2, giving Marcus Zukanovic pole-position ahead of Nick Parker, Jason Domaschenz and Adam Lloyd.

Parker beat Zukanovic off the line, but lost the advantage when he missed a gear. As a result, Lloyd moved up to second after an absolute blinder of a start. Parker and Domaschenz were both able to work their way past Lloyd’s VH Commodore, with Parker then setting some ultra-fast lap-times as he pursued Zukanovic.

Back in the pack, Tancredi made up several positions after starting 10th as a result of his non-finish in Race 2, but worn tyres checked his momentum towards the end. Tony Bates’s tough weekend continued with a blown engine, while Allan Hill continued to chip away and racked up big bundles of points in his ex-Ross McGregor Commodore.

In the end, Parker was unable to find a way past Zukanovic, but was thrilled with second place, while Domaschenz came home third in front of new series-leader Lloyd.
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