28 August 2017
RACE REPORT – RACE 3 SYDNEY MOTORSPORT PARK
After a tough start to the season with significant damage from the first two events we were hoping for a stronger result from the races at SMSP. The event started with the regular drive from Brisbane to Sydney along the coast road on the Wednesday enroute to Phil Gilbert Toyota to do a photo shoot with the team and spend some valuable time with one of our major supporters. Just 50 kms outside Sydney a tyre blew on the race trailer and within milli-seconds the FOBO Tyre Pressure monitoring system alerted us to the issue. The crew swung into action like it was a pit stop and with a blink of the eye we were back on the road and cruising towards Phil Gilbert Toyota. It was a great opportunity to meet the Phil Gilbert team and show them the car and compare it to the latest road going Limited Edition Toyota 86.
Thursday morning we bumped into the track and set up for the weekend. A quick gearbox change at the track we were set up for the first practice on Friday morning. The first session was ok and we worked on the setup to improve the car performance in readiness for the second session and qualifying. With the great support from Brett Francis we had the car handling well and ended up qualifying sixth out of a field of 34 cars. This was our best session to date and we were well positioned for a strong race 1.
Race 1 was a great event and it was so pleasing to see close and clean wheel to wheel racing with the other drivers. The car performed well and we advanced to fifth position at the end of the race. A few tweaks on Saturday night and with the confidence from race 1 we hoped for further advancement in race 2. Race 2 on Sunday morning was a blast and the car was in the zone and our pace was at the top of the table. With a good start, we worked our way forward to fourth and closed in on Jimmy Vernon – series leader, in the last few laps. Having come from over one second behind Jimmy to be within striking distance within one lap we knew we had the pace to stay with the front pack. The first attempt to pass Jimmy into turn one didn’t come off so we tried again on the next lap. Well that was one hairy moment as the car drifted into a big slide and the hands furiously worked to hang on as we slid sideways through the high-speed turn 1 suffering only a minor tyre rub on the door. Credit to Jimmy for giving me racing room and we both survived the moment as we charged side by side to turn 2. Jimmy prevailed and retained third and we were pleased with our pace and elevated our position to fourth. The most pleasing part of the race was that during the middle of the race we were the fastest car on the track so we now know we have the right package to put it up front.
Race 3 saw us get a great start only to be blocked and baulked by another driver as he missed a gear and then suddenly moved left across in front of us. We slipped back to sixth and put our head down to work our way forward. On lap 2 we made contact with another car with our front right wheel and caused the steering to be bent. Massive understeer followed and we struggled with pace from then on and slipped back to eight for the race.
All up a great weekend with an overall 5th for the event and we have now shifted into fourth place in the championship with two race meets to go. The points table is extremely tight, so finishing races is the key. With Bathurst in early October and Newcastle in late November we will be focussed on gaining more pace and bringing the car home at the front of the field.
Many thanks to our generous sponsors and supporters including Phil Gilbert Toyota, Phil Gilbert Parts, Bennett & Philp Lawyers, Veloce Tuning, FOBO Tires Monitoring, iPAS, Motul, Redink, Nuke Tools, International Protein, YRPS, All Points Glass Thomastown, Lucky Bling, Crisp Signs, Natiive, White Ribbon, Evans Petersen Healthcare, Docketbook and Brett Francis Racing.