'I felt the hit, and then the whole world just went crazy, I thought I was trapped in a tumbledryer' was Gatton racer Brendon Pingel's recollection of his Queensland Raceway crash on July 23.

The terrifying series of rolls and flips would have been enough to frighten most people away forever, but for Pingel, it was the impetus to strip and rebuild his Aussie Racing Cars Holden Cruze, as he looks to defend his national crown.

"The rebuild was a lot of hard work, it was a complete and total rebuild of the car, down to a bare chassis," Pingel said.

 

"Even the chassis needed to be straightened, it had a couple of hits over the years that had never been properly fixed, just knocked into a shape."

With the chassis now in its third season of racing, Pingel said it was 'inevitable' there would be some damage, given the closeness of the competition.

"You are always getting a rub or a love tap from someone, you just try to avoid the big crashes, they can hurt, physically as well as financially."

After a brief shakedown run at Queensland Raceway, scene of his 'biggest ever' crash, Pingel said he is now getting used to driving 'a new car'.

"We have taken all the kinks out, it is now completely straight and tight, so it is like new."

While the team has pages of set-up data to draw on, Pingel said much of it is actually inaccurate now, with the chassis repaired.

"Previously, I was compensating for the twists and kinks, now that it is straight, the old settings are actually slowing us down, so we are going for a softer suspension setting, which will also get the power down better."

In fact, the engine and integrated gearbox were the only components not damaged in the crash.

"I thought the engine would have been trashed, but it was actually in perfect condition, we changed the oil and fired it up, it was strong as an ox."

Aussie Racing Car driver Brendon Pingel with his 5/8 scale purpose built racing car that has been rebuilt following a spectacular crash at Queensland Raceway in July.
Aussie Racing Car driver Brendon Pingel with his 5/8 scale purpose built racing car that has been rebuilt following a spectacular crash at Queensland Raceway in July. David Nielsen

Confirming the old adage about clouds and silver linings, Pingel's phone ran hot after the crash, including offers for 2017.

"I have been offered a full season of Porsche Carrera Cup, it is still early days, but it is a good offer, we are just looking at our sponsorship."

With the car now ready, Pingel heads off to Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend.

"We only have two rounds left, Sydney this weekend, then we finish the championship in New Zealand at the Hampton Downs circuit."

While there is a chance of Pingel retaining his title, he admits it will be a tough task, given he dropped points to his competitors by not finishing at Queensland Raceway after his crash.

"But then, if it can happen to me, it can happen to someone else, that is the nature of racing, if I have a good day in Sydney and then it changes everything."

Also in his favour is the last time the championship went to New Zealand, in 2015, he came away with the round win and a new lap record.

"None of us had seen the circuit before, so it was a level playing field and I came out on top, I am hoping it will be the same when we go to Hampton Downs."

While he is disappointed to not get another chance to conquer the Mt Panorama circuit at Bathurst in October, Pingel is focused on keeping the #1 plate.

"You put aside the little things like not racing at Bathurst, and look to the bigger goal of staying Australian champion."



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