I always look forward to this time of year, so much expectation and pressure, yet it’s something that I strive for each year. I can’t believe the enduro season is run and won for another year. Let’s just say it’s been a fairly eventful campaign for JDub and me, but overall, we put our best foot forward and at least this year we brought home a trophy!
Three poles in a row and a clean sweep in the qualifying races for a few years really gave us a great opportunity to stand on the podium.
Come Sunday morning it turned into a typical Melbourne day and was one of the toughest few stints that I have done in a car for many years, juggling between slick tyres on a wet track, and then what seemed 10 minutes later wet tyres on a dry track. I was stoked to finish my stint and get into pit lane, in hindsight; I should have been paying more attention to not taking my seat belts off two seconds too early. In 18 years of racing, thousands of driver changes in racing and practice, I’ve never done that before. It is a great lesson learned that the job isn’t done until it’s done.
Bathurst is always such a big week. Starting on Tuesday, the emotions were already running high flying into Bathurst. Last year seems such a long time ago, but all the memories of the last two to three years certainly cross your mind when you get to the track for the first time.
What can I say about JDub’s qualifying and Top Ten lap? It’s one of my favourite parts of the weekend, to sit back and watch everyone put everything on the line, and JDub nailed it! The car had been great all weekend, and to also see him take pole was a pretty awesome experience.
Race day is something special. The early morning warm-up, the driver’s parade, and this year it was an honour to be asked to drive the 1996 HRT Peter Brock Commodore in the tribute lap, a big thank you to Ben and Rachael Eggleston for helping with that. It was ironic that on the parade lap, JDub’s tribute car broke down or ran out of fuel on the way up the mountain. I forgot to stop and offer him a lift on the way past, which he politely reminded me of after he got back 10 minutes later.
The race always has its highs and lows, we had a change in strategy when we were on the grid, I was planning to start, and then the decision was for JDub to start at the last minute. The race couldn’t really have gone much better all day, we were fortunate enough to have been given a car which was a rocket all day by the whole team. It was so much fun to drive, and clearly was the quickest car all day. Lap 151 didn’t turn out how we all had planned, I stand by JDub and agree 100% the move was on, if I was in the car I would have done the exactly same thing, we are always racing for Bathurst glory and it’s not meant to be easy.
Car #88 crossed the line first, but we didn’t get the win or a trophy. It was bizarre feeling, and something after the whole team’s effort over the weekend it’s not what anyone deserved.
Gold Coast 600
It was great to be back on the Gold Coast, especially after the appeal from Bathurst, it meant we could get back to what we all do well, racing.
This year the co-drivers only had one 30 minute practice session, which is bizarre. I think as I sat on the grid for the race on Saturday I had done about 14 laps around the track in total!
It was a great feeling to get back onto the podium on Saturday and get the win on Sunday to cap off the enduro campaign this year.
The mistake at Sandown has really defined my campaign this year; it, unfortunately, took away JDub’s buffer in the championship points, which in all honestly isn’t good enough as a co-driver for that to happen. A lot of people have asked about 2017, currently, we don’t know what will happen, if I go around again, I will have to do the Dunlop Series. As we sit here today, there is a lot of work to do for this to happen, but let’s hope that it all comes to fruition. Finally a big thank you to the whole team, it’s a privilege to drive for the RBRA and Triple Eight team each year.
Thanks for the fun,