One word to describe last weekends racing at Sydney Motorsport Park. Wild!
Weather played a huge role in the weekend’s racing.
All started with very wet Friday practice. On Bathurst tyres and with a wild set up in the car we struggled with grip in the rear. I know what you’re thinking, grip in the wet? Your crazy!
Practice 1 was drying track but we assumed that it would rain again before practice. We were wrong. With a very aggressive we set up in the car we went out to see what the car would do. Could only manage a lap that was good enough for position 14. Not a great opening account for the year.
Practice 2 we went full dry set up assuming the track would come to us. Just as we were on the dummy grid, the heavens opened up. Bugger. Softened the car as much as we could, but with the high rake in the car, we couldn’t get any of the grip that any of the others could get. Not by a long shot. We finished that session a miserable 23rd.
After talking with some of the other competitors (who are usually at the front with us), we came to the conclusion that the Bathurst tyres we had from the previous race were hard and not getting the grip from say a fresher tyre. For our series, the first round you don’t need to use the previous rounds tyre for practice like every subsequent round. They only need to be roaded. We thought that maybe people up the front tested with a green tyre, then used that tyre for Friday practice, hence the fast guys were slow and the slow guys were fast. A false form guide if you will.
After such a fast year last year it was hard not to leave the track a bit dejected and deflated. We know where we should be and we just didn’t get there. Luckily it was only practice and it didn’t count for anything.
Saturday came around. After a good feed and a massive sleep, I felt energised and ready to bring qualifying on. Green running and a random qualifying order made for a pretty intense session. After being held up at last year’s Bathurst race, I made sure to give the car in front a 2-3 second gap in hopes of not getting held up again. I was sorely wrong. The car in front made two massive mistakes, one at turn 2 and one at turn 5, which brought me right up to their rear bumper. As the new tyre only gives you goodness for the first lap or so, the competitor didn’t move and baulked my lap. I had to back out and go again. Set my fastest lap on lap 3 for 7thin session. A massive step in the right direction from qualifying.
Race 1 came around so fast. We tweaked the car in between sessions for a bit more pace, but I knew it was all driving in the races that counted. Race start was shocking, didn’t lose or gain any positions but was one of my bad starts. Too much clutch dump bogged the car and not enough slip to keep the revs up. Battled with a few competitors before safety car was brought out. We were hoping for more than one green flag run to finish the session off, but was not to be. A bad safety car restart saw me lose 2 spots and the chequered flag sealed the deal. 9th in Race 1.
Sunday, the heavens opened. Rain poured from 10pm the previous night. The pits were flooded. Our car was on jack stands as it always is, and the water was over the bottom of the tyres. We arrived at the track at 6:30am for an 8:30 race, only to be marooned on a camp chair in the pits for an hour waiting for the flooded water to drop. The schedule was delayed so we weren’t stressed for time. Or so we thought.
The organisers came around to all the pits to tell everyone there was 5minutes until we were to be on the track. I was with some froends ontop of the pit building watching Super2/3 qualifying when my phone rang. I rushed down and got dressed all in a rush and go to the grid (just).
Race 2 was fun. Semi drying conditions made passing hard. The race started under safety car to allow the trackto dry off a little. Three competitors didn’t make the start after spinning off the track on the roll up lap. Fighting hard with other competitors, I gave room that wasn’t needed and speared off the track at turn 1, after hitting the wet section off line. There was 3 of us that all went off track at the same time. Crazy times. Then the safety car came back out and that was it for that race. Finished 29th.
Race 3. Dry track. Lots of cars to pass. Time to have some fun. Mega start this time (thankfully) passed four cars into turn 1 off the start. Passing was again hard in some sections of the track as there were rivers flowing across the track. Dive bomb after dive bomb, having some awesome fun along the way (and some pretty hairy moments) we made it home with not a scratch on the car. Phew. Driving back into the pits my team manager (dad) said I passed 14 cars. That was a massive relief. The car was fast, I was fast, clean passing, that was one of the best races I’ve had. Finished 15th.
A massive relief to finish the round clean, and as only the top 32 cars qualify for Townsville, we can take it easy knowing we are going there easily.
Townsville last year was one of my stronger race tracks. Hopefully we can bring the same pace we had last year, and fight for that elusive podium and race win.
As always, big thanks to my partners and sponsors for enabling us to get to each race meeting. Without them we wouldn’t be on the grid.
Massive thanks also go to my Mum and Dad for being the pocket rocket pit crew, as well as my spanner man Brady for all his help on the weekend.
Bring on Townsville!!