Garry’s race report: The Grand Prix is a love/hate type of event

Garry Roger’s from Wilson Security Racing GRM writes his thoughts on the latest round of the 2016 V8 Supercars Championship – Australian Grand Prix….

It’s obvious but I will say it – I love Motor Racing. The Grand Prix has always been a love/hate type event for me and without been too presumptuous other V8 Teams may well have the same feeling.

I love the way that Melbourne presents itself for the GP and the atmosphere both at the event and the surrounding suburbs including the city centre is fantastic. From the point of view of owning a V8 Supercar Team you are always conscious of the “more important” Championship, but you always want to present yourself and your sponsor group well. We went to the GP with a few “odd and ends” to test in preparation for Tasmania in a fortnights time. With only three test days throughout the season, one of which you keep until closer to the Endurance part of the year to give co-drivers track time the GP gives you an opportunity to make a few changes to the car.

The weekend comprises of 4 x 12 lap races. The race start procedure is a side by side rolling start as compared to our usual standing start. The GP schedule is kept very tight in regards to track time and races can often be shortened if the Safety Car is deployed and time is lost. This was the case in Race 1 on Friday which was shortened by one lap as a result of the Nissan of Todd Kelly have a mechanical issue on the start line. Both Wilson Security GRM cars moved up from their qualifying positions. Scott finished 9th after starting 12th and James 18th after starting 24th. The race was won by Van Gisbergen from Whincup and Mostert.

The starting position of each subsequent race is decided by your finishing position in the previous race. Race 2 began at 6.20pm Friday and typical Melbourne it was freezing cold and threatening to rain following a 30 plus degree day on Thursday. Scotty finished in 8th and after a promising opening lap where he had passed several cars. Moff had a collision with Jason Bright (BJR) which ended his race. Van Gisbergen made it two from two and led home Whincup and Lowndes.

Saturday and I took the opportunity to take a walk around the Albert Park precinct as we were not racing until mid afternoon and with no morning practice or qualifying I wanted to have a look about. I was really impressed with all of the activities and entertainment that was provided for the fans. Obviously much of which was related to Motor Racing, but some simply to entertain the people and families that attend this festival. Personally I am not a huge fan of F1 but there can be no doubting the interest and excitement the F1’s bring to Melbourne. I must also acknowledge the organisers on the presentation of the Albert Park Circuit and the hospitable manner of the staff that I encountered on my walk around.

Saturday afternoon arrived and unfortunately I wish it hadn’t, I would have been better off sitting on the infield with the other spectators enjoying a beer and a pie! Moff had a racing incident with Heimgartner on the opening lap which bent a steering arm and he lost 3 laps while the crew changed it and Scotty after a great start where he had moved up to 5th and looked threatening had a pulley bearing fail on the oil pump pulley and he had to park the car. I don’t want to always look for positives for the sake of it, but Moff was impressive when he returned to the track and was the quickest non 888 car on track. Of course this means nothing when you are 3 laps down in a 12 lap race, but as with life we must always be realistic about our circumstance but also look for something good to keep us going. Thankfully the day ended but unfortunately my appetite for the pie had diminished.

Sunday and one 12 lap race to complete the weekend. The final grid positions are determined by the points gained in Races 1 to 3. Scotty started 15th and Moff 22nd. After a really great first lap, Moff was right behind Scotty in 16th and raced well throughout the race and withstood plenty of pressure from the seasoned campaigner Jason Bright to finish in 16th. Similarly Scotty settled into a good rhythm finishing behind last year’s Champion, Mark Winterbottom (PRA) in 12th position. Van Gisbergen finished off a great weekend for him and the 888 Team winning from Coulthard (DJR Penske) and Lowndes.

We are back at work preparing for Tasmania; the cars need to be packed in the transporter this Thursday prior to Easter and will head to Tasmania via Bass Strait on Monday night. Unfortunately Joey the transporter driver only gets to travel approximately 160klm on this journey, meaning his Volvo Globetrotter FH16 700 will hardly warm up!

Regards

Garry

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