She has been racing in the BNT V8s for the last three seasons so it was a pleasant surprise to see Kiwi driver Chelsea Herbert sign on for the 2020 Castrol Toyota Racing Series. With experience first of all in the Ssangyong Series (utes) and then V8s, and not single seaters, it was always going to be a huge learning curve for the Aucklander.
Talkmotorsport caught up with her after the opening round at Highlands Motorsport Park last weekend where for all drivers, the hot topic was getting to grips with the heavy steering of the new FT60 which was making its series debut.
“It’s been tough (the weekend), said Herbert. “The heavy steering was never going to make it easy for anyone. I particularly struggled having been from something with power steering most of my career. It’s a tough transition.
“I have trained really hard in the pre-season, but it does come down to seat time. In saying that we have made some really good gains in the round so looking to up my game at Teretonga and stick with the field. If we can start to move forward and latch on to the back of the grid, then I will be a lot happier.
A major difference for Herbert is adjusting to the aero.
“I’m loving it. Typically places where in the V8 you would lift off, all of a sudden you are foot-flat going around the corner. Its been an adjustment, especially trusting in the car but we are definitely getting there.”
So why TRS? Why the big step-up to a single seater?
“We are primarily here to learn as a driver and getting skills in a single seater. If I can improve my lap time, I don’t necessarily need to be right up front.”
After the first of five rounds, where does she see her strengths and weaknesses?
“I’m really good at getting out of the corners and getting the power down while I need to work on the rate that I get my peak pressure on my braking. The pressure is there, I just need to get it a lot quicker, as that is what is killing my speed. Endurance wise, there is still more to work on. All in all there has been lots of learning from the first round and I’m excited about learning more over the next four rounds.
And her thoughts heading to a familiar circuit (Teretonga Park, Invercargill)?
“I’ve got three seasons of racing at Teretonga, although the V8 lines will be out the door. It will be a lot faster as well.
“I’d say the final corner onto the straight will be critical as it is a long straight and if you get that wrong you will get left behind.”
Herbert sits 17/20 after a creditable debut at Highlands. Don’t expect podiums, rather her objective is for continuous improvement and learning.