12 Feb 2016
Round five BNT NZ Touringcars Teretonga
With only a short turn around from last weekends meeting at Ruapuna, we were fortunate enough to be able to use a workshop for our pre race prep. A big thank you to Auto Gas Specailists for allowing us to use the workshop and for the suspension set up for the car!
We were all ready to go out for Practice on Saturday morning untill we were waiting on the dummy grid to be released. When the grid was realesed the clutch master cylinder failed on us, meaning we had no clutch. I chose not go out with out a clutch as I did not want to put extra stress on the gear box or drive train and potentially damage anything else. The pressure was on to find a replacement master cylinder and get it fitted before Qualyfying only 2 hours away!
After getting one of the team to rush around all of the automotive shops in Invercargill with no such luck for a replacement master cylinder, I began asking around the pits and the other race categories running for the weekend. Thankfully we cut a break with one of the formula ford boys who kindly offered us a brand new master cylinder. Dan and Ryan got straight to fitting it in the car and sorting it out. As the boys were hard at work the Super Trucks were on track and one had a massive crash with major damage to the track. No one wants to see a crash to this extent but a small positive for us was we now had time to get the clutch master cylinder replaced with out rushing. The truck driver was ok thankfully but the track damage was massive and racing was brought to a halt for few hours to fix track.
With the track all fixed up and our car ready to go (thanks to Dan and Ryan’s stellar effort on the car) we were ready to go!!
I was at a slight disadvantage as everyone had allready had a test session this morning where as this was my first time on the track. I knew I had to make it count and got straight to work on trying to bank a fast lap. By lap 8 I had a time of 1:05.598 which had my sitting in 3rd position, I came into the pits for the team to check my tyre pressures and temps. As I left the pits to try and bank a faster time to move up the order the weather decided to change. Dan was on the radio to me as I was leaving the pits and we both agreed its not worth the risk of me over driving in the slippery conditions and spearing off track and damaging the car, so I circulated for a few more laps just to familarize myself more with the track and the optimum lines. Finished up qualyfying 3rd which was not a bad effort for a first time out on track.
Only 30min to go untill the first race of the weekend and the weather decided to throw a spanner in the works, it was looking to be slightly overcast and the track would be dry but in the distance possible rain. Everyone rolled onto the dummygrid on slicks and low and behold the weather packed in and started raining! Ryan and Dan got straight to swapping our slicks for wets and a few minor shock adjustments for a wet set up. The rain wasn’t going to go away so I knew I was in with a chance as I am very confident in wet conditions. Rolling start for race 1 as normal starting procedure for us, everything was going good as I got the tyres and brakes up to temp as best I could for the wet conditions and I was ready for a rocket ship launch for the start. Approaching the final corner of the track to come into front straight to start the race, I down changed a gear and didn’t give the gas a big enough kick I compression locked the rear wheels and couldn’t hold onto it, I had spun myslef around leading to the race start… I couldn’t believe it. All of my category 2 field had luckily missed hitting me and got around the corner. I tried to get going again to make up for lost time and was to heavy footed on the gas and had looped myslef around again! I could not believe my roookie mistake! By the time I eventually got going down the straight everyone was heading into turn 1 and I was 700m behind heading down the straight.
I put my head down to get back upto the pack, pushing myself in the wet conditions. I caught a break and was able to catch back up to the tail of my pack due to a category 1 car going off track and causing a safety car. With 6 laps remaining on the restart I stuck to the tail of cars infront of me but we were all so evenly matched on lap times it was a struggle to find a way through, plus the conditions weren’t the best to try anything risky. I did have the 2nd quickest lap time for my class with a 1:13.412 only 0.072 sec off the quickest lap time. But that wasn’t enough to make up my driver error before the race. I had to settle for 5th place in race 1, unfortunately 2 cars in my class did not finish the race but some times you have to take what you can get.
Sunday morning we woke up to rain again, but by the time Race 2 came around the bad weather had dissapeared and the track was dry as a bone so we bolted on our green set of slicks for the race. Due to our Class rules race 2 starting positions are reverse top 5 of race 1 finishing positions which had me starting off pole position, time to redeem myself for yesterdays mistake! On warm up I had the car’s tyres ready to go and the brakes up to temp. As soon as I saw the lights go out I nailed the gas pedal and rocketed away from my competition. Leading into turn 1, I had a small lead and was ready to put as much distance between me and my competition. The car which started 2nd was a very good defensive driver and knew he could hold off my main competition for a lap or 2. On 2nd lap one of the category 1 cars had gone off track again and caused a safety car which is not what we were hoping for but I knew if I got a good restart id be able to put up a good fight. Coming into the front straight for the restart I accelerated out of final corner but the category 1 car directly infront of me slammed his brakes on; I had no where to go I had to stand on my brakes which ruined my start and caused every car behind me to hit the brakes as well. Only one of my competitors noticed the lights were green which meant the race had restarted and he pulled up alongside me and we were having a drag race to turn one, which I lost. Over the next few laps I kept the pressure on and picked where I was quicker and could make my move to take the lead of the race. I got a great run out of final corner onto the front straight and pulled to the inside of the track coming into turn 1, I out braked him forcing him wide and to pull in behind me as I was on the optimum line for the corner. Now back in controll of the race I pushed hard to create a buffer for myslef to ensure I gave myself the best chance to win! I had pulled a few car lengths buffer, but that was only untill a faster category 2 car got up into 2nd position and slowly chewed away at my buffer. For the final 6 laps of the race it was all on!!! Nose to tail Liam was pushing hard trying everything he could to get past me but I had an answer for every move he made. Driving defensively but still holding race pace I was driving at my best. We were that close the whole time down the front straight you couldn’t see where my car stopped and Liams’ car started. The laps were counting down, Dan was on my radio telling me I had 1 more lap to hold out Liam and I was going to get my maiden win!!! I drove superbly, untill approaching the final corner I took a defensive line into it knowing he couldn’t get past me on the straight to the chequered fllag. I braked at my normal braking point changed down to 2nd gear and just before the corner changed down to 1st gear as its such a slow tight corner. To my disbelief the rear wheels pinched as I let out the clucth and eased off the brake. The rears compression locked so I immediately put the clutch back in to regain control of the car but I was to late. I got to the turn in point of the corner but the car was to unsettled, I turned in and the car went completely sideways I couldn’t hold on to it. I spun myself around in the corner only a few hundred metres away from taking the chequered flag for my maiden win………….. I could not believe what had just unfolded before my eyes. Had I really just driven the best race of my career holding out my competition for half the race for it all to come undone by the same rookie driver error I had done before start of race 1? I was so dissapointed in myself, I got the car going again and ended up crossing the line in 4th place. I was flooded with emotions, I could not believe I had just blown my chance to win! My immediate thoughts were that I had just let down everyone; my sponsors, my team and myself, I know im better than that but how did I let it happen again. I could not control the emotions I was flooded with, when I got back to the pits the dissapointment was to much. I got out of my car and had to walk away and remove myself from the situation.
After I had settled myself down from my unbeleivable rookie mistake in the previous race I was ready to push myself to the limit in my final race and get that win!!!
I was starting off position 5 for the final race of the weekend (standing start race). I had to get a good start to be able to challenge for that win which I so badly wanted!
Lights came on 1 by 1 untill all 5 were on, I was holding car at 5000RPM I saw the lights go out, let the clutch out and I was off. I shot from 5th up to 4th by first corner knew I had to attack for 3rd position as soon as possible before 1st and 2nd got too far in front. By end of lap 1 I was up into 3rd around 8 car lengths behind 1st and 2nd. I began to pull away from 4th place which was a relief to me as all I now needed to worry about was chasing down the cars infront of me. I Was holding the same distance between cars in front for a few laps and as the tyres came on in my car I began to lay down quicker times and slowly making improvements to close the gap on my fellow competitors until lap 13 the car in 2nd place had blown a gearbox coming into turn 1. I was the first car behind him and I was completely smoked out by his smoke screen from the gearbox oil that was coming out of his broken gear box. I slowed down as I literally could not see the track and didn’t want to hit any oil on the track and spin out and lose my position. As the car with the broken gear box pulled off track between turn 1 and turn 2 I got straight into chasing down the car in first place. We had 9 laps left and I knew I had the speed to catch him up. I made small gains on him but we were so evenly matched on lap times only 0.1 sec seperated us each lap. As the laps were counting down the faster category 1 cars began to catch us and lap us. I was still trying to stay on race pace but as we were getting down to 4 laps left I knew the gap between us was to large for me to catch up. With the faster category 1 cars lapping us aswell I had to be careful of where they were catching me and passing me to ensure I didn’t lose out too much. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch up to the car in 1st and had to settle for 2nd place, 6 sec behind the winner. One positive from the race was that I was quicker then him with my fastest lap a 1:05.106 compared to his of a 1:05.194. This proved I had the pace and if I had a better start who knows what could have happened :p.
Being able to finish Race 3 in 2nd place was a nice way to finish the weekend and a relief that I finished a race with out spinning myself out!
Thankfully from our good result in Race 3 we ended up securing 3rd place overall for the weekend which was definitely a positive for us.
All in all it was a great weekend minus a few moments where I “ran out of talent” but I am able to see the positive side of those moments now and learn from my mistakes. We showed race wining pace all weekend and we really did give our competition a taste of what we have to offer for the rest of this season. With only 2 rounds remaining we are 145 points off the championship lead sitting in 2nd overall for the season.
A huge thank you to my amazing team!!!! I truly can not explain how lucky I am to have them working with us this season Dan, Ryan, Jose and Lucy all have their own unique specialities they bring to each race weekend and with out them I honestly do not believe we would be in the tittle hunt for this season! With the car needing to come back up to Auckland to get a few issues sorted out before our next event in 2 weeks, its all on for us :p
Massive thank you to Mark and Annie from MWN Civil for making the long trip down to support us at both of our South Island rounds, I hope I did you proud.
As well as all my other wonderful sponsors who were unable to make the long trek down. Every time we show up to the track and I jump in the car, i go out on the track and do my up most best to proudly represent each and every one of you whilst im driving the car and out of the car. I promise you all we are right on track to get our maiden race win and definetly in the hunt for the out right Category 2 Championship this season!!! Cant wait for Manfield in few weeks! Thank you all so much for constantly supporting me and beleiving in me, I won’t let you down :D