It was a race-winning weekend for Prodrive Racing Australia in New Zealand, but our columnist Cam Waters didn’t fare quite so well.
Well, it was a pretty up-and-down weekend at Pukekohe to be honest.
The Saturday wasn’t too bad. I was 11th in qualifying for the first race, but I struggled with race pace after that. I just couldn’t find any rhythm with the car, and I couldn’t find a sweet spot with the set-up. To sum it up, I finish 12th in Race 24 and that was as good as it got.
It’s a tough track when the car isn’t quite working well for you. And because the field is so tight, if you’re two or three tenths off the pace you are absolutely nowhere.
There’s so little in it, that’s the way the field is.
The track evolved a lot over the weekend, and that changed what I was needing from the car as well. We saw that my teammates Mark Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert were much closer to the front, and I think that was their experience showing in those evolving conditions.
I felt like I did have pretty good pace at times across the weekend, but we weren’t consistent enough. And once you qualify poorly, with the four-race sprint format that was used, there was no opportunity to make any genuine gains in the race. That hurt us on Sunday.
I don’t think it’s the best format we can be using at Pukekohe, to be honest. Going into the weekend I kind of already knew that the racing wasn’t going to be great, and was going to be all about qualifying. That’s what you get with no pitstops, hard tyres, not much tyre degradation, all those things combined. And it turned out exactly as I had imagined.
Hopefully next year Supercars decides on a different format.
The big positive was Mark and Chaz’s pace, particularly Mark winning the first race on the Sunday. That’s always encouraging. They weren’t quite as quick as the Triple Eight cars, but still it was a good weekend. I feel that they might be driving through some the issues we have a little better than I am at the moment.
But my teammates are my benchmark, so if they can lift our performance and find that last little bit we need to get back to Triple Eight, then that’s a good thing.