1 May 2018
PHILLIP ISLAND RACE REPORT
The trip from Brisbane to Phillip Island is always a long slog and this one turned out to be longer than most. With 2 drivers we normally do it in about 22 hours or less but this time it took 38 hours. Just outside Sydney we have major engine dramas with the BT50 and it expired on us just when we needed it to be reliable. So, the following 12 hours to get the vehicle and trailer back to Sydney and then repack alternate transport was not what we call fun. Massive thanks to the team at Phil Gilbert Motor Group Parts for organising a van and a Hilux and we sourced an open car trailer. So, after 24 hours on the road with the repack and reload we headed out of Sydney again and took a few rest stops on the way to arrive at Phillip Island at about 4 pm on Thursday rather than the planned arrival on Wednesday night. Straight into setting up the pit and doing the final adjustments and checks to the car and we finished about 8 pm that night. Sleep was now on the agenda after a good feed.
Practice 1 on Friday morning and the car just wasn’t set up right and we only managed 15th with a 1 second gap to the front of the field. That’s a huge margin and we started scratching our heads on which way to go to get pace. Dad left me with the engineering decisions on the car this weekend, so the pressure was on. With some significant adjustments we clawed our way up to 5th and closed the gap to the lead down to 0.25 seconds. The adjustments headed us in the right direction, but more fine tuning was need. The rest remains a secret and when qualifying time came on Saturday morning I knew I need to bag a good time early as the new tyres were a bit of an unknown quantity. All the fast times by the front runners were done in the first 2 laps and we managed to put it on pole on our first lap, did a total of three laps and then parked the car. Job done!!! My first pole (and record as well) on the Toyota 86 Racing Series event. I was so happy as I had both engineered the car and drove it to success.
Race 1 and being gridded on the front row was awesome. I got the car off to a great start and pushed hard on cold tyres and managed close to a half second gap after the first lap. The car was awesome to drive, and I was having a ball out the front. As the record shows we won the race and led all the laps with a final gap to second of 2.6 seconds. On the final lap I thought I would play a joke on Dad (generally a brave move??) and shouted over the radio that the motor had died as I came over Lukey Heights. He fell for it and for sure I could hear the massive disappointment in his voice. Not wanting to pay to big a price for the practical joke I let him off the hook quickly as I round turn 12 and brought the beast over the finish line.
Race 2 was a lot closer and Jay Robotham certainly drove brilliantly to pass me and take the lead for 3 laps. We stayed close and fought a hard and clean battle. Jay did a superb job as I put him under maximum pressure and eventually I retook the lead and won the race. Jay will be one to watch for sure as the season progresses. I came home to win the race with a lead of 1.5 seconds.
So that set the pressure to max on the dial for race 3 as I was surrounded by eager and very talented drivers. A good start was a must and that we did and lead the race from lights to flag. A great win with a 2.2 sec gap to second place.
The feeling of pride and elation was huge as we had won our first T86RS event and clean swept the weekend. We now lead the series with the maximum possible points of 300 and a gap of 52 points to second place. Our work is now in front of us to tame the tricky Townville track in July.
A gigantic and heart felt thanks to all our sponsors and supporters with special thanks to the Phil Gilbert Motor Group, Phil Gilbert Motor Group Parts, veloce Tuning, All Points Glass Thomastown, iPAS and Crisp Signs who made this great weekend possible. Now back to fixing the BT50!!!!
Stay tuned for some exciting developments we are going to announce soon. 2018 will be huge for Liam McAdam Motorsport.