Monster Energy V8 Supercars star Cam Waters experienced the highs and lows of racing in Tasmania. Here’s his take on how it went down – including that on-track stoush with team-mate Mark Winterbottom.
As I said last week, I wasn’t too sure what to expect heading into the Symmons Plains weekend. But, for the most part, it was a decent weekend.
We rolled out on Friday and we were actually pretty strong. I feel like I picked up the track pretty easily, I remembered all six corners and which way they go. All I had to do was work out the braking and turn-in points, but to be honest that didn’t take me too long.
In Practice 1 we kept tuning the car, and we ended up being pretty competitive. In Practice 2 we kind of ran out tyres, which held us a back bit – but then we bolted a green set on right at the end of the session and went second quickest to Mark Winterbottom. That was really, really cool to be able to be so quick at a track I hadn’t been to since 2011.
Qualifying on Saturday, I think I was about 12th – which was good. That’s pretty much hitting my targets, which is in and around the Top 10. In the race I managed to move forward a bit, and had a good little battle with Frosty and Jason Bright.
Door-to-door with the reigning champ
It was really cool going door-to-door with Frosty. He was obviously struggling for grip, his car wasn’t all that nice to drive and mine was pretty good. And I was probably a little bit kind to him because he’s my team-mate; if it had been anyone else I would have got past a little bit sooner.
I followed him for 10 laps or so, and when I finally got in front of him Brighty bump-drafted him back ahead, which was frustrating. Still, you can’t beat a good hard battle like that.
Ultimately Brighty got by both of us because he had much fresher tyres at the end of the race, but I was happy enough to finally get by Frosty.
It’s a decent little confidence booster to be able to race with guys like Frosty and Brighty. It shows that if everything is working, and the car is there, then I can mix it with front-running guys.
Anyway, I have to say I was happy with how the whole weekend played out… at least until the first stop on Sunday.
The turning point
At the first stop on Sunday it all went a bit pear-shaped for me. When you’re the second car in the team on track, then you always run the risk of having to stack if the Safety Car comes out – and that’s exactly what happened.
I’d actually made an awesome start. I was running up in P6, right behind Chaz Mostert after the first lap. I was just cruising around there until the Safety Car came out. I had no choice but to pit, and that meant I had to stack behind Frosty.
It wasn’t just me; guys like Jamie Whincup had to do the same. The good thing is that I had quite a bit of fuel on-board, so we were probably going to get a lot of spots back later in the race.
Then, I came into pitlane for the second stop… and the car just shut down. I’m not really sure what happened, but something in the engine bay failed. We eventually got it going again, but then it let go for good a few laps later at the hairpin, which obviously caused a fair bit of drama at the front of the field.
I had no warning, it just cut out again. I thought it was similar to what had happened in pitlane, before it started making all sorts of weird noises.
At that stage I still didn’t know there was oil pouring out of the engine; had I known, I would have got off the track and into the dirt much sooner so I didn’t cover the track in oil.
It was a disappointing way to finish what had been a good weekend.
Ahead of expectations
Three race weekends, and two points-scoring rounds, into the season I would say that I’m ahead of my personal expectations. My target has always been the Top 10, and if it hadn’t been for the DNF on Sunday then I’d be well and truly there in terms of points.
I was actually running fourth in the championship on Saturday night, which was great. And I've been running in the Top 10 regularly, which is also great.
It’s all clicked for me. There is obviously room for improvement, I think we can be even closer to the front, but I’m happy with how things are going.