V8 Supercars star Jake Kostecki has claimed the unwanted mantle of the first driver to have a big crash on the newly renovated Albert Park circuit in Melbourne in a scary 200km/h smash.
The 22-year-old Tickford Racing Driver was 22nd overall as his red flag ended the race six qualifying session, and handed David Reynolds a shock pole position.
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It was scary scenes as Kostecki sent foam across the track and was left perpendicular to the barriers, meaning drivers needed to take evasive action so as not to hit him as the red flags came out.
“Oh my god, let’s hope the yellow flag is out back there because that’s a red flag,” the commentator said.
The medical teams quickly came to his aid but Kostecki was mainly embarrassed that he caused the session to end.
“I’m fine,” Kostecki said.
“I just feel sorry for the boys for crashing. We had a big swing at it and I just took too much out of the tyre. It is a tricky corner and we made a big change before qualifying and the car got really loose and that was the end of it.”
It was a costly early end for championship leader Shane van Gisbergen especially, who will start from the back of the grid as he had a run cancelled out for a kerb strike on turn 10 and his time voided.
He was in the pits ready for a one-lap assault but Kostecki’s red flag will see him start back in 24th, as Kostecki’s fastest lap was voided.
The result meant Reynolds was on pole, while he also finished second in the race 7 qualifying.
“I was a little bit nervous after practice,” Reynolds said.
“I felt a bit lost with both the set-up and the way I was driving. We made some good changes and the lap we did was good enough for pole. I am really stoked with the result and it is full credit to the team for all the hard work they have done over the last couple of months.
“We are getting better. We have a lot to improve but it is good enough for now.”
It’s one of the first looks at the new track after two practice sessions on Thursday morning.
Experienced campaigner James Courtney said that the track was a challenge.
“Gave [the wall] a little bit of a rub … it’s pretty wild.
“From Turn 6, that new profiled [Turn] 6, all the way to [Turn] 9, it’s crazy fast through there.
“We’re on the Hard tyre and it’s right on the edge of being flat.
“It’s going to be pretty interesting with the 25 of us going through there.
“The surface is really, really flat. I think they’ve done a really good job with it.
“It seems so much wider in areas, but yet the walls are closer. It’s a bit off-putting, but we’ll see how we go.”
Will Davison was also impressed about the speeds.
“It’s definitely fast around the back section of the lake,” Davison said.
“Comfortably flat now on soft tyres. Race trim will be interesting.
“You’re doing 270, 280 and you’re sort of loaded for five or six seconds.
“It’s billiard table smooth. Grip is quite high so it’s just trying to understand how you can attack the corners.”
It’s something that will catch F1 drivers’ attention after 2020 Turkish Grand Prix on a freshly resurfaced track.
While that race didn’t have different classifications, the drivers could hardly stay on the track.
It may not be a big concern that it will be as difficult at Turkey but it could just sit in the back of drivers’ minds.