The Clipsal 500 season opener was a big weekend for many reasons, including the first event for V8 Supercar’s Car of the Future, the debut of Red Bull Racing Australia, and a sell-out crowd.
To pick up the race one win aboard my new VF Commodore is all because of the massive effort the team have put in over the off season.
The car was really nice to drive, and never missed a beat… but to win by 20 seconds is a result I would never have expected.
Something that came up post-race was that it was my 90th win in Australian Touring Car Championship/V8 Supercar competition, which now has me on level pegging with Mark Skaife for the highest career tally.
It’s not something that has really played on my mind, but it is a pretty cool stat to have achieved. Hopefully we can claim the record outright shortly!
Race two was a bit tougher, as we didn’t quite get the run we wanted in qualifying.
The first safety car for the weekend came late in the race, which made it a bit of a scramble to the finish. I had to have a go at Jamie at turn seven after the restart, but that allowed Russell Ingall through.
I had to have another dive at turn nine on Russell, but that gave Jamie back second on the road. Still, a third place finish and the points lead after the opening round is a great start to the season!
I suppose one of the big news items from the weekend was Casey Stoner’s debut in the V8 Supercar Dunlop Series aboard a Red Bull Commodore.
I think his presence on the grid brought a lot of attention to the class, which is a good thing for the sport as a whole.
Casey did a really good job over the weekend. His pace was solid, he listened and asked the right questions, and learned a lot from the experience. After a flat tyre spoiled his first race, he really put in a strong drive in the second heat to climb through the field.
I think once the series gets to some of the more wide open circuits on the calendar, we’ll be able to see what he is really capable of.