A three-car crash which left one driver hospitalised was the worst of several incidents at turn one of the Newcastle 500 track over the weekend.
Queenslander Luke van Herwaarde was trapped inside his vehicle for about 10 minutes on Sunday before being taken to John Hunter Hospital with a suspected lower-back injury.
Van Herwaarde and fellow Toyota 86 drivers John Iafolla and Zane Morse did not finish the support category race following the ninth-lap prang, which delayed the start of the Supercars top-10 shootout.
The troublesome track spot, situated at the bottom of the Watt Street straight opposite Customs House, also ended the campaign of Novocastrian Aaren Russell in the SuperUtes class on Sunday and saw Nick Percat lose both driver side doors after making contact with a stationary Fabian Coulthard in Saturday’s Supercars race.
The action-packed position once again proved a popular vantage point for punters with people lined along the eastern and northern sides of the track.
A minor adjustment was made to last year’s inaugural race circuit at the pit exit approaching turn one, with Supercars officials saying the inside barrier “moved by 100 metres to reduce any intrusion of the blocks”.
Drivers are forced to make a hard 90 degree swing left at turn one, with little margin for error, after negotiating along the home straight in between pit lane and Newcastle Harbour.
Most commonly cars career into the far barricade.
“You’re still carrying 165 to 175 kilometres an hour down into the braking zone, so you’re probably only getting a brake which is 15 metres earlier,” Newcastle auctioneer and Toyota 86 driver Gavan Reynolds said.
“It was wild going through there and then the cars obviously got stacked up into the fence. So you arrive on the scene and all you’ve got is a bigger road block then the one you thought you were going to have in the first place.”
Russell, who was in the main Supercars section at the Newcastle 500 last year, opted for an overtake near turn one in the third and final SuperUtes race after starting from second on the grid.
“I knew with the car in front, that one corner was my only shot to get past him,” he said. “I had a crack and it didn’t come off. Ultimately I locked the front.”
Maitland-based Toyota 86 driver Hayden Jackson was competing at his first Newcastle 500.
”A lot of people came unstuck there, I almost came unstuck a few times myself,” he said.
“It’s just a very off-cambered, weird sort of corner.”
Percat spoke to Fox Sports after his race-ending Supercars crash.
“I had parts of his car on my lap; I think it’s the second time now I’ve had no doors on my car,” he said.
Coulthard was also interviewed by the television station: “I can’t blame anyone but myself. Got a bit loose on the way in and tagged the fence.”