Right now, we’re in one of the busiest periods of the year … especially for the Red Bull Racing Australia crew.
Last weekend we were in Tasmania and this weekend another ‘overseas’ race, in New Zealand.
It’s tough on the boys … moving the cars from Launceston to Pukekohe in less than a working week is a big ask, and then they have to prepare them as well … it’s even worse for the teams with damage from the Symmons Plains races to repair.
I’m not quite sure what V8 Supercars’ thinking was with this scheduling, and no doubt it couldn’t be avoided, but it’s very hard on everyone involved, including all the people from V8 Supercars who actually organize and run the series.
Tassie was a memorable weekend but for the wrong reasons.
It started well enough when we were quickest on Friday and I’d have said the car wasn’t too bad, but we could probably get a little more speed out of it.
Come Saturday and I was pretty disappointed with Qualifying … there was nothing in it of course, same as usual at Symmons Plains where everyone is separated by a fraction of a second.
So we started the first leg of the Saturday race, a new split format with a short break in-between, from eighth and that’s where the trouble began.
Start that far back and you’re in the firing line for being taken out (by another competitor), and that’s what happened to me.
By the time we’d rejoined the race, we were a lap down with a damaged gearbox, and that was that.
In the second ‘leg’ of the race, the only one that counted for points (not sure what the thinking behind that was), all I could do was drive around at the back and stay out of everyone’s way.
With no first gear and down a lap, I was never going to be able to score meaningful points on Saturday.
My boys fixed everything for Sunday, of course, and my RBRA Commodore looked brand new and felt pretty good … but I didn’t get the laps together in qualifying I needed, so I’d have to start the two separate races fifth and 11th.
In Sunday’s first race was just plain got the chassis set-up wrong, and the car chewed up its rear tyres.
It was a real handful and I couldn’t fight for position, in fact I lost a few spots, and I crossed the line with two tyres torn to shreds.
Off the back of that, we changed the car for the second Sunday race and it wasn’t too bad, but starting mid pack with everyone blocking, I couldn’t find a way by anyone. It was just a high speed train with no-one doing much.
I think the learning is that we need more speed, especially on the ‘soft’ tyres which we used in Tasmania … fortunately this weekend we’re back to the ‘hard’ tyres at Pukekohe, which the car seems quite suited to.
After what seems like my annual “bad” weekend in Tassie, I am looking forward to going back to Pukekohe.
It’s probably the only track I’ve never won a race on but I do enjoy it, and I’m feeling confident about the prospects for the weekend. I reckon we’ll see a bumper crowd too.