Bob McMurray writes from the opening round of the 2016 Toyota Racing Series ….Sunday
A horrible day to wake up to.
Hard drizzle and cool temperatures with low cloud.
The day made all the more horrible by reports from kind friends and relatives of just how good the weather is in Palmerston North, Auckland or wherever.
OK, we get it. Enough already!
Not good news overnight for the M2 team whose rental cars were broken into in the small hours.
Nothing stolen, as they leave nothing in them, but not a good feeling and they will have to drive to Queenstown tomorrow with smashed quarter lights on three of their cars.
I think pretty much all the drivers speak English to a greater or lesser degree.
Some international drivers sound as if the are born and bred in the mother country itself.
Others not quite so but English is definitely the language of motor sport worldwide.
We have DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters – German Touring Car Masters Championship) engineers, GP2, GP3, F3 engineers and mechanics from Europe and they all speak English.
Quite simply, they have to, otherwise they get left behind in the international scene.
Of course some of these people learn their English ‘on the job’ from other mechanics and that is not always a good thing.
Some years ago I worked with a German / Swiss guy and his English was very basic.
I invited him to a family dinner to try and assimilate him into the country a little more and he was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to have a dinner conversation so he asked a few of his ‘friends’ in the team to give him some phrases.
“Praise the cook” they said, “Ask how people are” etc. and they gave him the right words to say.
Dinner time came and my mother was in attendance as my Swiss friend launched into his rehearsed phrases.
“This F*%#@$* food is delicious” he said, “What a F**##**# beautiful house” he said.
My mother and those assembled didn’t say much in reply save a rather stunned look.
The moral is, don’t learn your English from Formula 1 mechanics!
I was reminded of this story when I heard driver Victory Motor Racing driver Julian Hanses refer to his driving gloves.
“Hand socks” he calls them.
And why not?
TOYOTA FINANCE 86 CHAMPIONSHIP
All the damage from yesterday was repaired although the car of Jaxon Evans needed some considerable work on the jigs to make sure everything was in line.
The TF 86 cars took to the track, the wet track and to be fair I think many of the assembled crowd, engineers etc. looked forward to it with some trepidation given the performance in race #1.
No worries for most though.
A good race with a reversed grid but it didn’t take Ash Walsh long to come from a couple of rows down to take the lead.
An excellent race by him and the chasing pack demonstrated, in the main, some good clean racing.
It is this sort of race that will attract more and more competitors and spectators the TF 86 series.
A full grid with fast and exciting racing all the way from first to last.
TOYOTA RACING SERIES
A reverse grid for the top eight runners (Ferdinand Habsburg pulled the #8 marble from the hat) and the rest of the grid in the finishing positions of race #1 promised a very exciting race.
Add to that the fact that the conditions were dreadful and visibility was extremely limited.
So limited in fact that most of the grid would be driving almost blind in the spray of the leading cars.
That was clearly on the mind of the front two or three rows as the lights went out and pole sitter Jehan Daruvala got nothing but wheel spin as fellow front rower Pedro Piquet powered away.
It looked as if Daruvala was going to be swallowed up by the entire grid but he found some grip and came out of turn 1 in about third.
I say ‘about’ as we really couldn’t see too much so how the drivers could figure it all out I don’t know.
In fact in mid pack the visibility was so bad that only the three, or maybe four, cars in front of a driver was visible and then only by the rain compulsory rain light shining at the rear of the cars.
Once again Lando Norris was the undoubted star of the show.
He made a great start and got into third before slipping into second to begin his chase of Pedro Piquet.
A safety car was called as the car of Kiwi James Munro embedded itself into the tyre wall at the left hand corner after the pothole.
He simply missed his braking point and slid onto the grass.
Front wing damaged and steering arm bent…just a little bit.
At the restart Norris took the lead and proceeded to extend that lead gap to the end of the race.
Piquet came home second with Guanyu Zhou in third.
Thankfully Mr. Zhou is quite happy to be known by his English version of ‘Joey Zhou”. So much easier for the commentary team.
The other Kiwis didn’t have a good race.
Brendon Leitch made a self admitted mistake and got a bit wide, on to the grass and lost position and Cockerton says he was ‘dive bombed’ by Markelov and went off, also losing positions.
TOYOTA FINANCE 86 CHAMPIONSHIP
Due to extenuating circumstances (a busy old day!) I was unable to see the TF 86 race
THE LADY WIGRAM TROPHY RACE
Force India’s Formula 1 team’s protégé Jehan Daruvala won the 2016 Lady Wigram Trophy, in a rain affected, strategy filled race.
Lando Norris, like all the other starters, began the race on dry weather ‘slick’ tyres but as the drizzly rain intensified and other took pit stops to fit the wet weather tyres, Norris continued in the lead on slicks.
It might have been a gamble that would come off except for a second safety car period when many of the field then took advantage of it and also came in to the pits for wets.
The safety car meant that the field then closed on Norris and he was in the position of trying to brave the rest of the race, about 8 laps, out or come in and fit wets and drop significantly down the field.
The team chose to stay out.
Piquet had stopped early for wets and started to put in some very fast laps and was cutting the deficit between him and the leaders, still on dry tyres.
The race report from John Coker explains things better but clearly Lando Norris, who now leads the championship points table, has incredible speed and the other drivers are going to have to work hard to match him.