Fans right on track
DON’T read too much into my lap record at the Eastern Creek test and fan day last weekend. Obviously, I was very happy beating Skaifey’s 1999 record by about half a second and coming out first thing with a car that still has plenty of speed from last year.
But that was Eastern Creek, and we don’t race there, so a lot of the set-up work could be wasted and the things we learnt may not be able to be applied to other tracks.
We put a base set-up in the car which we believed would work and it proved to be 95 per cent right, but there are always areas you can improve.
My race engineer, Jeromy Moore, and I are working as well as we’ve ever done, and it looks like the changes of personnel in the team such as my new No.1 mechanic, Nick from DJR, are also working well.
On the other side of the garage, Jamie (Whincup) was a bit disappointed with his car speed, finishing up 12th in the times.
Even further back was James Courtney, but that’s no surprise. It’ll take time for him and Will Davison to settle into their new teams, but they will still be forces to reckon with this year.
The new concept of a mandatory pre-season test day was an outstanding success with a big crowd turning out. Not sure of the crowd numbers, but it’s a lot more than footy teams get along for practice.
We’ve struggled in recent years to get a fan base for Eastern Creek race meetings. While it doesn’t look like we’ll be returning for races anytime in the future, it was still good to hear that millions of dollars are being invested in the Sydney circuit.
Most people know I am a big supporter of circuits for a multitude of uses, especially driver training. Eastern Creek is going to get a lot more facilities as well as four different tracks on two independent circuits. That’s fantastic news for driver education and road safety.
Eastern Creek is a fantastic facility and it’s in the right place, especially since Sydney lost Oran Park in recent years.
I hear that the boss of Subaru in Australia has claimed motorsport in Australia is irrelevant to our market and of no interest to youth.
While there’s always room for new motorsport categories, I disagree that V8s are irrelevant. The category has established itself over many years as an iconic series, not just something representative of what motorists are driving.
You can invent a new category but you can’t invent history and that’s what V8s has in spades.
And if you look at our fan base, our demographic covers a huge age range.
I’m sure Subaru would be happy to be a part of it if the company can come up with a vehicle to race when we introduce the car of the future.
My immediate future is driving the Audi R8 in the Bathurst 12-Hour this weekend.
I’m not nervous about it, even though it’s a new team and the first time I’ve driven a race car with paddle shifts, ABS, stability control, left-hand drive and indicators. I had Audi Sport Team Joest email me the cockpit layout, switches and controls and I’ve been studying them.
The first thing I have to do is learn the car, the team and most importantly figure out what I’ll do about ABS and stability control. I’ll have to get my head around how they work and how sensitive they are, but I’ll probably start by turning them off.
Some people have asked how I’m able to drive an Audi, but they don’t realise I’m not contracted to Holden.
I’m contracted to Triple 8, so there are no issues.
It’s actually the first time in my career I’ve had no direct connection with a manufacturer.
I don’t know whether this will lead to anything with Audi, but I do hope it leads to competing in the Le Mans 24-Hour race.
The June race doesn’t clash with any V8 round, so there’s always a chance for this year. I’d love to think that if not this year, then definitely next year.
There has been a lot of talk about selling off half the V8 Supercars Australia. It’s an interesting move and I’ll keep a close eye on how it develops. While there is a real danger of it being sold to foreign interests, HRT, FPR and Triple 8 are all foreign owned and that hasn’t done any damage to the series.
Speed king: Craig Lowndes slams down the accelerator to beat Skaifey’s Eastern Creek record.