Rais­ing the flag

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport - Craig Lown­des

IDON’T think I’ve ever seen a black flag re­scinded. The is­sue with Garth Tan­der get­ting a black flag and then hav­ing that de­ci­sion re­versed is bad for our sport.

There is no con­sis­tency. There were bits of car fall­ing off all over the lap, yet I’ve seen black flags is­sued to cars with bumpers hang­ing but not fall­ing off.

We’ve all had black flags be­fore and done the drive-through no mat­ter what we thought, but to stay out on the track when there are bits of car fly­ing off ev­ery­where while you ar­gue the point is not right.

I was ac­tu­ally the cause of GT’s smashed head­light be­cause I hit his car with the rear spoiler.

As for the James Court­ney black flag, I didn’t see his restart, but I un­der­stand there were sev­eral is­sues with er­ratic brak­ing and ac­cel­er­at­ing and his dis­tance be­hind the safety car.

There are rules and you sim­ply have to abide by them or pay the penalty.

For me, it was a bit of an up-and-down week­end with a sec­ond on Satur­day and ninth on Sun­day, end­ing on vir­tu­ally the same points mar­gin from the lead­ers as be­fore I started.

But we’re still in third and still in the hunt for the ti­tle be­cause – as the week­end shows – any­thing can hap­pen in this sport.

Cer­tainly any­thing can and will hap­pen on street cir­cuits and we still have the streets of Syd­ney to race in the fi­nale, so who knows? My team­mate Jamie (Whin­cup) al­most threw it all away in Syd­ney last year. Most im­por­tantly, we have come away from the week­end vir­tu­ally un­scathed ex-

Cer­tainly any­thing can and will hap­pen on street cir­cuits and we still have the streets of Syd­ney to race in the fi­nale, so who knows?

cept for a few Kiwi nib­bles in the sides and back of Jamie’s car from his dra­matic duel with Cheese­burger (Shane Van Gis­ber­gen) and a smack in the rear of our car from (War­ren) Luff on pit en­try.

That hit on my co-driver Andy Pri­aulx ru­ined our chances in the Sun­day race be­cause it put our rear wing out of align­ment and re­duced the down­force, which chewed up our rear tyres.

It was a shame be­cause we were third at the time and ended up ninth.

The Sun­day race was just so un­pre­dictable. Who would have thought there would be six safety car pe­ri­ods, with five in the first half? At one stage we had done more laps un­der safety car con­di­tions than race con­di­tions.

The safety car driver al­most drove far­ther than the co-driv­ers. It re­ally played havoc with our strat­egy and in the end Andy drove more laps than me.

Not that his driv­ing caused us any prob­lems. He cer­tainly de­served his award for the best in­ter­na­tional driver. Andy did a fan­tas­tic job and I’m sure our team prin­ci­pal Roland Dane would have him back next year. His whole ap­proach to the event was level-headed and he kept im­prov­ing from the moment he got in to test the car at Queens­land Race­way.

Ac­tu­ally, I think that is one of the rea­sons for all the car­nage on the Sun­day – the in­ter­na­tional driv­ers got braver and more ag­gres­sive as they started to learn the track and un­der­stand the cars.

Thank­fully, Andy kept his nose clean, kept up the pace and brought it home clean.

I was glad to see the short­ened track and newly resur­faced sec­tions didn’t break up. The only bit I re­call break­ing up was at the back of the kerb in the fast chi­cane on the beach straight.

I also like the new hair­pin fourth corner, which pro­vides an ex­tra pass­ing op­por­tu­nity.

With the shorter lay­out, you re­ally had to keep your wits about you and con­cen­trate the whole time.

Also, it is easy to go a lap down, which means lapped traf­fic fights very ag­gres­sively not to be over­taken, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to deal with back mark­ers.

In all, I think they’ve done a good job with the lay­out. Af­ter all, with a street cir­cuit you have to work around the streets that are al­ready there.

I be­lieve the State Govern­ment and V8 Su­per­cars Aus­tralia have a three­year con­tract, but let’s hope the Gold Coast event con­tin­ues for longer than that.

V8 boss Tony Cochrane is very con­fi­dent it will stay. I think the Gold Coast race is def­i­nitely jus­ti­fied as a V8-only event, judg­ing by the 170,000 peo­ple it at­tracted over the three days.

Road toll: Garth Tan­der re­turns to pit lane af­ter crash­ing out on the Surfers Par­adise street cir­cuit.

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