by Chaz Mostert, 18 year-old Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series driver.
Hi, and welcome to my first column for TMR.
We always hear from those at the top of the V8 Supercar game, like your Lowndes', Whincups and Courtneys, but rarely from someone trying to break into the big time – like me – a rookie in the 2011 Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series.
So over the coming season, I’ll be here to tell you what it’s like at the other end of the spectrum, where we run second (or third!) hand cars, use recycled parts and the all-important cash you need to succeed is scarce.
As you try to climb up through the motorsport ranks, classes get dearer and dearer, and finding sponsors is hard. One of the ways for me to reduce the cost for me to race is to work with the team, so I’m not only a driver for MILES Racing but an employee too.
Apart from the menial tasks like keeping things tidy, fetching the mechanics' lunch and the like, it is my responsibility to order parts for cars or anything else we might need to make life easier when we turn up to a race, and generally help our mechanics with the preparation of my simPRO Falcon.
My role is obviously geared towards me being a driver first and foremost so I can fit in my training, but I’m eagerly awaiting the day when I don’t have to pack and unpack the transporter!
With our first race of the season at Clipsal, I thought my results were pretty good. I finished the round seventh on the Series points table, but more importantly I brought the car home without any damage.
As a rookie I think the most important thing was to show people (and prospective sponsors) I can finish races - the next step is to finish in a strong position.
When you’re racing against guys that have so much more experience in V8 Supercars and you finish in front of them because they have got themselves into a bingle, it’s an awesome feeling - knowing you played the game smarter.
Stepping up from Formula Fords, where I was the 2010 Australian Champion, the biggest difference I have noticed between a V8 Supercar and a Formula Ford is how good the brakes are.
For a car so heavy pull you up unbelievably quickly. With the added weight you can also ride or hit the curbs and not even feel them.
Other benefits are the adjustments we can make in the car, so if for example, you’re fighting understeer, you don’t have to come in to the pits, you can sort it out yourself with the turn of a dial or pull of a bar.
And of course, the additional speed and acceleration gives you a real kick.
In defence of the little old Formula Ford, they look after their tyres a lot better and are less responsive on the throttle so the rear of the car doesn’t get too loose. You also have a much better field of vision so you know what’s going on around you and where the other cars are on the track.
In Formula Ford you’re also racing a lot of guys your own age which helps with driver respect, and probably the best thing a Formula Ford has over a V8 Supercar is that it doesn’t feel like you’re driving in a sauna!
Next up we’re off to Barbagallo in Perth. Having survived Clipsal which is really a concrete tunnel of a circuit, my confidence is high that we can go one better because I’ll be able to push a little harder knowing that if I make a mistake I’m not going to bend the car, as Barbagallo has plenty of run-off areas.
I have never driven there so that’s also something to look forward to – it’s always exciting going to a track you’ve never driven at before. We have a full-blown simulator in our workshop that we can dial different settings into, so I have been doing plenty of laps to get my eye in and learn the circuit layout and where approximately my braking markers will be.
By the time I get to Perth I probably would have done about 150 ‘virtual’ laps of the track – so when I arrive it should be very familiar to me.
Well I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this brief insight to my life as rookie in the V8 Supercar game (hopefully on the road to bigger and better things!) and will follow me for the rest of the season and beyond.
Now I have to get back to sweeping those bloody floors!
#10 simPRO Racing Falcon