Hi all, I've just got back from a big weekend at Sandown, and what an interesting weekend it was. The weather played a starring role, and a recent hit of Glandular Fever didn't help much either, but we brought it home in the end. We had ...
I've just got back from a big weekend at Sandown, and what an interesting weekend it was. The weather played a starring role, and a recent hit of Glandular Fever didn't help much either, but we brought it home in the end.
We had 20-minutes to get a feel for the damp-and-drying track on Saturday, and despite being physically drained and having spent the previous three days in bed, it all went pretty well. I sat in second for the first half of the session and felt comfortable on the unpredictable surface, however after whacking a curb quite violently soon after, I knocked everything out of alignment and was left to spent the rest of the session circulating. Even though we ended up 11th, there was only three-quarters of a second to find.
Qualifying was dry but slippery - it was a bitterly cold morning. As was fast becoming the trend for the weekend, I once again found myself up front halfway through, and when another car dropped coolant all over the final sector of the track, I decided to save my second set of tyres and cross my fingers that nobody went any quicker. When the sun shone through the clouds in the final five minutes, the track was dry again, and I was bumped all the way down to seventh in the final minute - still only 3/10th away from Craig Baird on pole.
The opening race was tough. I duffed my start and dropped back a few spots off the line before being shuffled off the track by another car in the early laps. I really struggled with the car setup, not to mention having a hard time focussing in the car, and crossed the line in eighth at the finish.
We made a few key car changes before Monday morning's race, but my biggest problem was in myself. I was still drained and fatigued, so a trip to the circuit medical centre for a pre-race massage made all the difference. I made a blinding start from the fourth row, jumping to as high as third by the opening corner, before settling into fourth spot and spending the majority of the race battling with Bryce Washington. It was only when the tyres began to flare up late in the race that my pace slackened, but the season-best fifth place finish was a just reward.
The heavens opened then shut prior to the final race, leaving us with a wet track but a dry ambience, and I joined Bairdo, James Moffat and many other unlucky drivers having to start on the wet side of the circuit. With the field all on slick tyres, we were eaten up, and I'd dropped from fifth to ninth by the opening corner. From then on in, I had attacks from behind from Dean Fiore and Paul Stokell, and really didn't have the pace required to hang on to the frontrunners. When Stokell made contact with my while attempting a pass, I sustained enough damage to make the car fairly unpredictable in the final five laps, but I was still able to catch Foire and Rodney Jane in front, mounting a late challenge but eventually crossing the line in seventh.
I struggled this weekend for pace in comparison to Barbagallo, but I did what was required to gain a good points haul. I finished in seventh for the weekend, just shy of a top five, and was also the top rookie ahead of Moffat and Stokell. More importantly, in my charge to make amends for a slow start to the season, I still sit in 11th in the points, however the gap to 10th has been cut from 84 points to 30.
There's six weeks before Queensland to recover and get back to 100%, and we want nothing more than to continue improving in the manner that we have at the first five events. The better we go, the more we're enjoying it - it's the human condition.
Until next time,
-credit: jono lester