Bathurst’s the one towin
BATHURST throws up all sorts of uncertainties. But one thing is for sure. It’s going to be a slightly slower race this year because teams aren’t allowed to have their two main drivers in the same car.
That should also mean lower fuel economy which will have an influence on race strategy such as pit stops and driver changes.
We still don’t have a firm strategy on whether Skaifey or I will start the race or on when we have driver changes. But unless you are coming in for a splash and dash I think we will change drivers every time we pit.
Even that could change as we have a better understanding of the fuel consumption.
I suppose it’s been a whirlwind few weeks with Phillip Island and then the Australasian Safari, but I feel mentally and physically fit for the challenge ahead.
I think it’s kept my mind occupied and fresh.
Skaifey hasn’t had the best preparation having caught the flu in Melbourne last week. But he was still present at our test day last week and he’s feeling much better now.
In fact, he’s fitter than he’s ever been. It looks like he’s done some serious work since I last saw him.
I think our victory at Phillip Island has also given him a mental boost. He’s a lot more comfortable with the team and the car now and is right up to speed.
The interesting thing is that if we win, I won’t be able to close the overall victory tally on him. He’s got five and I’ve got four and we both have eight podiums each. Not that it bothers me. I don’t look at the stats a great deal. That’s for history buffs.
But there is one thing you can learn from the record books: pole position isn’t as important as people make out.
Sure it’s great for your confidence and for the sponsors to go down in
There is one thing you can learn from the record books: pole position isn’t as important as people make out
the history books, but out of 50 Bathurst endurance races, only 11 winners have started from pole.
My last three victories with Jamie (Whincup) came from the third row of the grid and when I won with Murph in 1996 I was second on the grid.
I think it’s more important to be in the first few rows of the top 10 so you get away cleanly and stay out of trouble.
Your first few driving stints in the car are about looking after things.
I remember racing with Skaifey at Bathurst over 10 years ago and we were leading the race by 40 seconds when we had a tyre explode.
It’s important while you’re out there doing your 30-odd-lap stint to take time to relax.
For me, it’s one of those circuits where you get some chances to relax when you are coming down Conrod Straight or going up Mountain Straight.
All you are doing is pulling gears, keeping your foot flat on the throttle and holding the steering wheel straight.
You teach yourself to relax at those points of the circuits.
From about lap 100 you start preparing to get in a position to push for the lead or top three positions with 30 laps to go.
Although it’s a 161-lap endurance race, it’s basically a long drawn-out prelude to a 30-lap sprint.
Look after your car and your fuel consumption during the race and it will pay dividends.
This is our grand final. It’s the one we want to win all year.
Everything else takes second place to this one.
Flying high: Todd and Rick Kelly flew in a F/A-18 Hornet for their Bathurst build-up.