Hi, and welcome to my fifth Rookie's Corner column for TMR.
As you would know, we recently raced at the world-famous Mt Panorama for the fifth round of the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series.
This time, I felt a lot more comfortable with the 6.2km circuit since I was last there and was really looking forward to the round. Any experience at Bathurst is valuable because you never, ever, conquer this place.
The first time I raced around ‘The Mountain’ was in the 2010 Fujitsu series - and ended up 4th for the weekend on debut - which I was stoked with. The second time was earlier this year during the Bathurst 12-Hour driving a Holden Astra which was a lot of fun – I think we finished 3rd in our class which was also a good result for a couple of rookies.
Comparing an Astra to a V8 Supercar at Bathurst is like chalk and cheese. The beauty of the Astra was that because it was a fair bit slower, it gave us a lot of laps around the track. Of course, it had nowhere near as much power as the V8, nor the awesome braking power.
Anyway, back to the recent meeting in the Fujitsu Series.
On the travel down to Bathurst the radars and forecasts were predicting rain, which was good, since our previous round at Queensland Raceway had a wet race and we were lightning quick - we knew that we had the right setup ready to go if it rained.
Dreams come true. Practice one was wet which was awesome. On such a good track in difficult conditions I knew it was either going to be fun or scary. I did a few laps and felt very comfortable with the car, without knowing what times I was doing.
It was the best feeling in the world to find out when the session ended that I was fastest by 2.9 seconds! Needless to say the team was pretty happy – and so was I – I’d just topped my first session for the season … at Bathurst … in the wet! (We were also running TMR decals for the first time – maybe they helped!)
I believe we were so quick in the wet because we set the car up ‘super soft’ compared to our competition, plus, I just seem to love the rain in a V8. Qualifying was in the dry and we ended up tenth which was another 'personal best' for me.
Race one and it was dry - a pretty boring race with everyone well spaced-out from the start. I ended up finishing 11th after making a little mistake with a couple to go. Forgetable race.
Race two - our final race - and all weekend the weather was teasing us. An hour before the race it rained, but by race-time it was dry again. I made a pretty good start and slotted into ninth before the first corner, and, after a lap and a half of being blocked by Tom Tweedie there was a passing opportunity at the end of ‘Mountain Straight’ - and so I went for it.
I reckon I had my nose far enough in for it to be my corner. Unfortunately, he shut the door which caused him to spin and back his car into the wall, which put him out of the race – disappointing, but people need to give others room.
So the race came under Safety Car conditions and on the restart I was hot on Rodney Jane with a little steering damage, but pushed on. I had a lot more pace than Jane once we went green but couldn’t do anything on the straights - we had more power and our car was a little better car in all the right areas.
Twice it was side-by-side up ‘Mountain Straight’ before I thought I had done the move into ‘Hell Corner’ (turn one) for good. But this time I was a lot hotter than normal and ran wide – and Jane didn’t back out and we touched.
Both of us nearly hit the wall and it was a hard to judge whose fault it was, but after the race a study of the rules said ‘a passing driver must not move over unless move is complete’, which is fair enough, and I ended up getting penalised.
Nick Percat was chasing me down hard in the last seven laps, so I made a goal to stay ahead of him. Memories of our battles in Formula Ford during 2009 flooded back and there was no way I was going to let him beat me.
Big moment. Big motivation.
I held on and crossed the line before he did – that and the fact I topped my first session were easily the highlights of my 2011 Bathurst campaign.
Well I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my column about my life as a rookie in the V8 Supercar game (hopefully still on the road to bigger and better things!) and will continue reading and following me for the rest of the season and beyond.
Chaz Mostert, # 10 simPRO Racing Falcon.