High and low of vic­tory

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport -

STAND­ING on top of the Bathurst podium hav­ing scored a one-two vic­tory and also record­ing the fastest lap was a high point in my ca­reer.

But I also felt a lit­tle empty not hav­ing my wife Nat and my kids, Levi and Chilli, there.

The kids came along the pre­vi­ous three or four years and it’s been a long time since Nat hasn’t been trackside at Bathurst.

She couldn’t make it this year be­cause she’s still con­va­lesc­ing af­ter her spleen prob­lems. So it was sort of an empty feel­ing.

It would have been nice to cel­e­brate with the fam­ily, but I spoke to them straight af­ter­wards. Nat was very proud and the kids were happy that I said hello to them on the podium.

With me­dia com­mit­ments on the Mon­day and then floods cut­ting me off from the farm on the Tues­day, it was a long time be­fore I got to share the moment with the whole fam­ily in per­son.

I don’t know if Mark (Skaife) and I will be back to­gether for the en­duros next year.

I’d love to be able to have the op­por­tu­nity to have him back, but I’ll sit down with our team prin­ci­pal Roland (Dane) this week and we’ll an­a­lyse the event and see where we’re po­si­tioned.

Mark was happy with the team at­mos­phere, how we work and our chem­istry driv­ing to­gether, so I’m sure he would like to come back.

Of course I’ll never catch up to his Bathurst win record as long as we’re driv­ing to­gether so he’d be quite happy with that sce­nario, too.

Mark was pretty sore af­ter the race with his popped rib.

I didn’t know I’d be driv­ing all the way to the check­ered flag when I got into the car for what was ul­ti­mately the fi­nal stint.

My race en­gi­neer, Jeromy (Moore), asked me whether I was still com­fort­able and I said I was.

We had talked about it as a pos­si­bil­ity and I was happy to do a long stint, but I didn’t re­alise the full rea­son­ing.

Mean­while, Mark was get­ting his back worked on by our team physio, Chris Brady.

Mark said it hap­pened as he was go­ing through the Dip­per and it was like some­one had stabbed him in the back. For­tu­nately it was at the end of his stint and he was able to hang on.

His ribs are still a lit­tle sore, but he’ll be fine.

I felt great in the car right up to the end and it was only later when I was sit­ting in the press con­fer­ence and the adrenalin was start­ing to drain away that the aches and pains came out. But I pulled up bet­ter than I ex­pected for hav­ing done 79 laps straight.

We were wor­ried all race about fuel con­sump­tion but Jeromy cal­cu­lated it spot on. There was only enough petrol left in the tank at the end for about an­other half a lap.

On the podium I dropped the win­ner’s cham­pagne to Ja­son Briggs in the crew for ev­ery­one to share around.

But we didn’t do much cel­e­brat­ing at the track. We usu­ally save that un­til din­ner that night with all the team from cater­ing to mer­chan­dis­ing.

I’ve very rarely seen Roland so choked up as he was at the din­ner. Peo­ple were only then start­ing to re­alise what we had achieved as a team.

I’ve since heard about the com­plaints on Twit­ter over Seven’s de­layed cov­er­age, and I must say I agree.

Peo­ple need to re­mem­ber there is al­ways a slight de­lay, but 20-odd min­utes was ex­ces­sive.

In these days of in­stant com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Twit­ter, Face­book and mo­bile phones it is more ev­i­dent to the fans if there is a de­lay.

Seven could eas­ily have made up the time in safety car pe­ri­ods.

The other im­por­tant thing for me about Bathurst was that the re­sult jumped me up from sixth to third in the stand­ings.

Driv­ers al­ways talk about be­ing in or out of the cham­pi­onship af­ter Bathurst and I can declare we are back in the hunt with less than 300 points sep­a­rat­ing the top four.

Now my at­ten­tion is turn­ing to the Gold Coast 600 where Mark re­turns to the com­men­tary box and I share a drive with tour­ing car leg­end Andy Pri­aulx.

We have a rookie day next Wed­nes­day at Queens­land Race­way, but Andy is hardly a rookie hav­ing been a three-time world tour­ing car cham­pion and hav­ing driven at Bathurst be­fore.

One-two vic­tory: Team Voda­fone’s for­ma­tion fin­ish at Bathurst last week­end and (be­low) Lown­des and Skaife cel­e­brat­ing their win.

V8 Su­per­car cham­pion

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