Hey there everyone, This is the first update from me in a little while. There's been a decent break in proceedings since Sandown, but on the weekend we were right back into it with my first visit to Queensland Raceway for the City of Ipswich ...
Hey there everyone,
This is the first update from me in a little while. There's been a decent break in proceedings since Sandown, but on the weekend we were right back into it with my first visit to Queensland Raceway for the City of Ipswich 400.
There were a few new faces for the event, with Williams Global Freight - www.williamsglobal.com.au - chipping in to help the cause. They came on board at just the right time too, with Garth Tander taking the wheel of the Blackwoods GT3 on the Friday of the event for a special TV piece to promote the series. Lucky for us, we got a fair bit of promotion out of it as well! For the record, Garth absolutely loved the experience, exclaiming "I wish my V8 had that sort of grip!" when he climbed out of the seat.
The event itself was a real struggle. The circuit is very bumpy (like Pukekohe without the undulation, only worse), and while it seems very simple and somewhat dull in layout, extracting the most from the car was much harder than I had predicted. We had a productive test day on the Monday before the event, however didn't really get anywhere in the official Friday testing with a couple of minor car issues.
We were still able to come up with a pretty good base setup for Saturday's 8:00am qualifying session in the chilly weather, however it was just one of those sessions. You have them every now and then, when you just can't seem to string a lap together, be it down to traffic, making a small mistake, or both. The pace was so close that any dent in the armour would prove costly, and it did. I ended up in 13th.
The opening race was a bit of a nightmare. I made a ripper start but was boxed in by the cars around me, so unable to take advantage, I settled into a rhythm but just couldn't make any gains as the car wasn't reacting anywhere near how it was in the morning qualifying. The big jump in ambient heat and track temperature transformed it and I was only able to finish in 12th position. In race two we made a few solid leaps forward, stiffening the car a bit and dropping a second a lap to finish in 10th. While it may not seem like a bit gain, I was on the back of a tight train of cars that stretched only a couple of hundred metres ahead to Craig Baird in the lead. The gap back to the next group of cars was over fifteen seconds, so we were in there, but a few more tweaks would be needed before I could move forward.
Despite all the dramas that would follow in the final race, I was still happy with how we went. I made another great start and nestled into the train, however I was hit from behind at the turn three hairpin and pushed into another car, damaging my front-right corner and sacrificing my front splitter in the process. I soldiered on, albeit struggling a little with a car that didn't really want to turn into a corner, and found myself locked in a battle for seventh spot that went right down to the final lap. Probing for a passing opportunity, I was hit one again at the turn three hairpin, by the same driver, this time putting me into a spin and out of contention. As a dozen cars speared off in all directions to avoid me, I braced myself for a T-boning, but it never came. Funnily enough, I coasted home to finish up 13th, which was far better than the DNF I feared was coming my way.
We learnt a hell of a lot about car setup and tyre management this weekend. Heat can play a real big part in deciding which direction to take with your car, and we have taken some real valuable info away with us before Phillip Island in two months time. See, there's always a silver lining!
Talk soon. Stay safe and be fast,