The Saturday night race incident forced an overnight repair – the Grove crew working on #26 until the early hours of Sunday morning – which was the beginning of the team establishing exactly what caused the failure that sent the Penrite Mustang off the circuit.
“Basically, the upright came away from the lower control arm and then it fired him into the fence on the left-hand side out of [Turn] nine, so really unfortunate,” Team Principal David Cauchi told Speedcafe.
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“If it happened probably anywhere else the damage wouldn't have been quite as significant, but thankfully Dave's okay. It was quite a big impact – it was 38g – so it was not small at all, he was a bit sore, but thankfully Dave's okay.”
“We've got to investigate exactly what went on. He said he did have a bit of contact earlier in the race with Broc Feeney which ripped the steering wheel out of his hand, so potentially something got damaged then which later on failed. But the exact cause, we'll have to go back and investigate a little bit further to understand exactly why.
“Unfortunately, it meant pretty significant damage to the car, we had to replace the rear clip, and the left-front and right-front corners overnight. It was a big night and morning for the crew, but they did a great job to qualify the car in eighth [for Sunday's Race 19].”
That was not the end of the dramas for #26 in Sydney, however, with a forced first-lap excursion in Sunday's race seeing more damage to the Grove Mustang, which finished 20th.
“Unfortunately Dave got squeezed between Anton [De Pasquale] and Will [Brown] at Turn 1, and basically the left-hand side sill – half of it was ripped off and the undertray on the left-hand side, the skid blocks were all ripped off – so his performance was hindered by that Turn 1 incident,” Cauchi said.
The second Grove Mustang of rookie Matt Payne finished the race in 23rd after a 24th in Saturday's night race.
Grove Racing – having impressively bumped this year's leaders Erebus Motorsport for fifth in the final round last season to bring high expectations ahead of the 2023 – now sits 10th in the Teams Championship.
“Not our weekend unfortunately – another tough one for the team, but everyone, everyone did a great job and the spirit in the team is still really good considering the results haven't been falling our way.”