Hi, and welcome to my second column for TMR.
Recently we had our second round of the 2011 Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series at Barbagallo Raceway in Western Australia. (Click here to read my first column entry at TMR.)
For those that haven’t been there, Barbagallo is a seven-corner, fast pace track - and our recent outing was also the first time our team has raced there.
The weekend program for us kicked off with two practice sessions and one qualifying session. These were followed by the main act - two 28-lap races - so we enjoyed plenty of track time and that made the long journey worthwhile.
At the end of the two practice sessions, we were placed 14th. We really struggled with our car’s balance and, having not driven there before, my confidence level was down and it took me quite a while before I could punch out a half-decent lap time.
Even though it's only a seven-corner circuit, Barbagallo is quite technical and you can lose valuable time if you don’t pull everything together.
After qualifying, we’d slipped further to 16th-fastest. We made some changes after practice that took us the wrong way – we stiffened our rear springs in hope that the car would lose its understeer on entry, but it didn’t work and also affected our power down out of the corner - so it was a double-whammy.
In qualifying, you normally only get two chances at a flying lap on a new tyre, because we only get two new sets of tyres each weekend.
With each set of tyres, there’s about a three-lap window of optimal grip - anything beyond that that really starts to hurt the tyres and the chances of a good lap are pretty slim. So you can see how crucial it is to get the set-up 'just right' before qualifying.
Starting Race One from 16th, I had a very average start but still managed to make a place or two before the first corner. The cars around me were very quick early on, and I struggled to stay with them for the first half of the race.
Getting close to the half-way mark, I could see that the cars in front were battling quite hard and slowing themselves up a lot - this gave me a chance to close in on them, and I did.
Most of them started making silly moves - knocking each other off the track - and that moved me up a few more positions.
The last quarter of the race really worked in our favour: we'd been looking after our rear tyres, so overall the car was still fast right to the end.
The car in front burned out their tyres in the early stages of the race, and that allowed me to get past a few more before crossing the finish line in eighth place.
The team and I were ecstatic with this result, especially considering our qualifying position.
Prior to Race Two, we watched the main game (V8 Supercar Championship) race, and after witnessing Karl Riendler’s fireball crash on the start-line, I was probably a little bit more nervous then I normally am before a race.
To get a V8 off the line cleanly is a lot harder than it looks, and starting closer to the front this time also had the nerves going.
With the inside line for the corner already taken, I got hung out to dry by the other competitors, but was able to slot back in about ninth place.
As with Race One, we held our position for most the race but made ground towards the end when the leader’s tyres began to fade. A couple of incidents ahead helped us out in gaining some places and by race’s end I was up to sixth.
The team and I were so happy that we'd finished both races in the top ten and had walked away from the event with a straight car - something that’s pretty important when you’re running a tight budget!
While I under-performed in the practice and qualifying sessions, our race pace was commendable, and the team performed well like they always do - all weekend. We also left the weekend knowing a little more about how to preserve and respect our tyres, along with learning a new track.
Over the weekend there was a bit of carry-on between Paul Morris and Nick Percat. My belief is that every single driver on that track has the other driver’s life in their hands, and their own life as well. The incidents that happened between them should never have happened.
Some drivers get too hot under the collar, making silly mistakes and pushing each other too hard.
But when we are driving against some guys that have come from the main game back into the Fujitsu series (like Morris) - they aren’t going to take that crap, which we saw on the weekend.
Most people in the series think it’s not fair that the more experienced drivers get to come into a development series, but I think it’s a fantastic thing, because they set a benchmark for us to achieve.
After Perth, we had a couple of days' recovery while we waited for the truck to get back. On Wednesday, I resumed my training and ended up back at work on Thursday.
I train three days a week on the Gold Coast with my trainer ‘Bluey’, who also trains the Stone Brothers Racing drivers - Tim Slade, Alex Davidson and Shane Van Gisbergen. He works us pretty hard and keeps us in shape for our next stint.
Next race, we’re off to Townsville. I raced there last year in the Australian Formula Ford Championship and won the round - so I know the layout pretty well and that helps.
I've been told however that it’s quite difficult to navigate the course in a V8 Supercar, so the learning curve begins again!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the second column from me about my life as a rookie in the V8 Supercar game (hopefully still on the road to bigger and better things!). Keep an eye out for more updates as my season progresses!
Chaz Mostert, 19 year old Fujitsu Series driver.
#10 simPRO Racing Falcon