40km/h isn’t safe
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.