40km/h isn’t safe

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport - Craig Lown­des V8 Su­per­car cham­pion

We were one of the big in­ci­dents in the race when I went in too deep un­der brakes into turn 10 and locked the rear tyres

THEY prob­a­bly should think up a new name for the pace or safety car. It cer­tainly wasn’t on the pace at Abu Dhabi last week­end. It caused a lot of con­fu­sion and pos­si­bly dan­ger when it drib­bled along at 40km/h, with the field in dis­ar­ray be­hind it and cars fly­ing out of the pits at full bore.

There has been a lot of talk in the in­dus­try about the speed of the safety car and its pro­ce­dures. We need more than talk. We need to sort this out.

From what I can gather, Frosty came out in front of the pace car and could have put the whole field a lap down if he’d con­tin­ued.

How­ever, I think he was taken a bit by sur­prise that the safety car was be­side him and go­ing so slow.

Ev­ery now and then we have this prob­lem with the safety car get­ting out of sync with what’s go­ing on in pit­lane.

With all the pit­stops that go on dur­ing a safety pe­riod, it’s of­ten dif­fi­cult for race con­trol to fig­ure out who’s lead­ing the race. So we ended up with all that soap opera about race or­der and Steve John­son not let­ting Jamie in.

It was just an­other in­ci­dent in a sur­pris­ingly chaotic race meet­ing on the Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit.

I was a bit ex­cited when I got pole for the first race. It was my first pole since 2009. It all sort of un­rav­elled from there when I stalled it on the start­ing line.

The track had cooled off from the af­ter­noon and grip had im­proved. I used the nor­mal start­ing pro­ce­dure, but the soft tyres had so much grip, when I let go of the brake but­ton, it stalled.

I ended up sev­enth in the race, which was all I could sal­vage af­ter that start and with a car that wasn’t quite bal­anced right.

Jamie and I swapped places for race two, but it was still an all-TeamVoda­fone front row.

I had a much bet­ter start to race two, even though I lost a spot to Frosty. But then the fun and games be­gan.

We were one of the big in­ci­dents in the race when I went in too deep un­der brakes into turn 10 and locked the rear tyres. I turned my­self around, lost con­trol and slid into the back of Rus­sell In­gall’s car.

Un­for­tu­nately, his car sus­tained much heav­ier dam­age than mine. I went over and apol­o­gised to Rus­sell af­ter the race. Quite ob­vi­ously he was not too happy as he was hav­ing a great run.

It’s a lit­tle hard to swal­low when a crash is not your fault, but we’ve both been around this game for a long time and agreed it was one of those things that hap­pen ev­ery now and then. I apol­o­gised and now we’ll move on.

We weren’t the only in­ci­dent. There was more car­nage in that sec­ond race than I’ve seen in four races at Abu Dhabi.

It is amaz­ing that we have a track so wide and smooth with so much runoff, yet we have so much con­tact and dam­age.

In the end, the sec­ond race came down to an econ­omy run. We had the best pace of the field, but Courtney had the bet­ter fuel strat­egy. You can’t dis­count Courtney in the se­ries, but that win was more about strat­egy than car and tyres.

The real stand­outs from the week­end for me were Alex Dav­i­son and Tim Slade. Keep an eye on these guys this year.

At the end of the week­end, we can come away with a lot of pos­i­tives. We had the front row of the grid in both races, had a lot of car speed and had some good strate­gies. It was just a shame we couldn’t com­pletely cap­i­talise on our strengths.

We’ve now got a five-week break be­fore the Clip­sal 500 in Ade­laide, but I’ll be back rac­ing again this week­end.

No, it’s not an­other sa­fari or en­duro. I’m rac­ing go-karts in Toowoomba to raise money for flood re­lief.

Like most rac­ers, I started in karts and I al­ways love to get back into them, and it’s for a re­ally good cause.

Tight fit: Jamie Whin­cup (88) and Steve John­son (17) battle for po­si­tion dur­ing race two of round one of the V8 Supercars at Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit in Abu Dhabi.

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