The Z-man Zooms to Victory
15/07/2008 at 12:03:21 AM:

Marcus Zukanovic has become the first Commodore Cup driver to take back-to-back round-wins in the series since 2006, following a dominant victory in the third round of the Menzel Glass Commodore Cup national series at Eastern Creek on the weekend. “The Z-man” qualified on pole-position and won all three races to move up to equal-third in the series despite missing the opening round.

Worryingly for his rivals, Zukanovic confirmed that he plans to contest the remaining three rounds of the series. “With this weekend’s performance, I think we’ll be back for the rest of the season,” Zukanovic said. “None of the Commodore Cup rounds clash with any of my Fujitsu Series commitments, so I think you can expect to see us at the next couple of rounds.”

Stephen White made a fine return to the Commodore Cup series, despite having not raced in the category for 18 months. White, driving the Andrew Parker-owned Sentinel Fire Services entry, finished second in all three races and was very closely matched to Zukanovic in pace throughout the weekend. “It was a great opportunity; Andrew asked if I’d help him to lift the car to another level, and I think we’ve done that this weekend,” White said. “To be within thousandths of Marcus for most of the weekend was really good.”

Michael Tancredi finished third for the round, and in doing so, wrestled the series-lead away from Adam Lloyd, who continued his remarkable run of consecutive top-five finishes. The battle between Tancredi and Lloyd for third-place in the final race was one of the highlights of the weekend.

“It was a good result in the end just to get in front of Lloyd,” Tancredi said.

Nathan Collins continued his inconspicuously consistent performances, finishing fifth overall ahead of Josh Hughes and Allan Hill.

Nick Parker and Phil “Split-Pin” Brock both endured lousy weekends, suffering a range of mechanical problems, while Glen Holdsworth’s racing debut came to an untimely end in Race 2 with a gearbox failure.

The next round of the Commodore Cup national series is at Phillip Island on July 9-10.

Marcus Zukanovic topped the practice-session by over a second from Tancredi and Lloyd. Drivers with problems during the session included Nick Parker (broken differential) and Daniel Russo (broken gearbox-linkage).

Stephen White topped the first qualifying session from Marcus Zukanovic in the first session, but Zukanovic bounced back in the second session to snare his second-consecutive pole-position. The other big improver in the second session was Michael Tancredi, who took his best-ever qualifying result with third.

Glen Holdsworth managed to qualify 12th in his debut drive after improving his lap-times in each session.

Ben Bancroft endured fuel-pickup problems in the first session, and Josh Hughes broke an axle in the second session.

Race 1
Marcus Zukanovic led the field away, with Stephen White hotly pursuing. The two drivers both exchanged lap-times throughout the race, and were rarely separated by more than half-a-second. White applied massive pressure to Zukanovic in the closing stages of the race, but Zukanovic held on to take the race-win.

Michael Tancredi stayed with Zukanovic and White in the race’s early stages, but faded away towards the end as the tyre-condition deteriorated. Adam Lloyd came home fourth after briefly being challenged by Josh Hughes, but the youngster made a mistake that relieved the pressure from the VH Commodore driver. Ross McGregor’s car came on strong towards the end of the race, but he ran out of time to overtake Lloyd.

Ben Bancroft finished 10th, scoring his first-ever pole-position start for the top-10 reverse-grid race.

Nick Parker ran most of the race jammed in second-gear after his gear-selector broke; Parker circulated slowly and finished last, a lap down.

Phil Brock was forced to retire from the race with a collapsed pressure-plate.

Race 2
The top-10 reverse-grid race saw Ben Bancroft starting on pole-position ahead of Daniel Russo and Allan Hill. Bancroft missed the start, allowing Daniel Russo to take the lead into turn two, but Russo was soon passed by Michael Tancredi and Marcus Zukanovic.

Zukanovic worked his way past Tancredi on the second lap, while Ross McGregor copped a drive-through penalty for jumping the start.

Nick Parker charged up to fifth before battling hard with Adam Lloyd in the race’s closing stages, while Stephen White was able to relegate Tancredi to third on lap six.

Glen Holdsworth retired from the race with gearbox problems, while Phil Brock chalked up his second DNF with a broken stud-axle.

Race 3
As with the first race, Zukanovic led away from Stephen White. However, Adam Lloyd and Nick Parker both jumped Michael Tancredi, who made a slow getaway. Parker briefly pressured Tancredi before falling back with brake-problems.

In the closing laps, Tancredi and Lloyd became involved in a thrilling battle for third position, running side-by-side for half-a-lap at one stage, with Tancredi eventually holding out Lloyd by the barest of margins to take the series lead. Zukanovic completed his hat-trick of wins ahead of White, similarly taking a trio of second-place finishes.
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