Garry’s race report: Wow, what a weekend

| Photographer Credit: Mark Horsburgh

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

Wow! What an incredible weekend for Wilson Security GRM with the Volvo Dealer Racing S60 winning races 6 and 7 of the Championship. I am really not sure where to start as the weekend had so many highlights including the performances of our two drivers in the Dunlop Series (DVS), James Moffat showing that he is getting the feel for the Volvo and of course Scotty with two poles and two race wins.

For the second meeting in succession Joey our transporter driver was very disappointed as he only had to spend a little over an hour in the Volvo Globetrotter FH16 700 to make his way from our Dandenong South headquarters to the Phillip Island race circuit. Rumour has it that he actually headed off Wednesday night drove half an hour to Tooradin spent the night in the sleeper and drove the second half Thursday morning!

The weekend of racing was a demanding one for the team with all four of our cars racing. Richard Muscat and Bieber (James Golding) in the DVS and of course Scotty and Moff in the V8 Supercars Championship. Obviously the focus from a media point of view is the main game, but from a personal point of view I really take a lot of satisfaction at watching the future of motorsport in the feeder categories and having two young guys racing for us this year has of course heighten that interest.

Richard “Meercat” Muscat spent 2015 in the Carrera Cup Series and I met him through our sponsor group. I was particularly impressed by his maturity and after some talking both internally and with our sponsors we committed to run Richard alongside Bieber (Golding) who is an apprentice mechanic at GRM.

Bieber comes from Warrigal nearby to where I live and I have watched him come up through go-karts to Formula Ford and gave him an opportunity in 2015 in the Dunlop Series. It’s hard to put into words but from the first time I saw Bieber drive I could see that he had ability and was confident that given time that we could develop that ability further.

Bieber has certainly listened to the more experienced people around him at GRM, particularly his Engineer David Swenson and the result for him was his first ever DVS V8 Supercar win on the weekend alongside two second places. Richard in his first season also performed very well over the weekend racing well inside the top 10 in all three races, but due to a little over exuberance had a best finish of 6th. Well done to the whole DVS crew.

Thursday night and the crew all stay in San Remo, but Barry and I save the team a few dollars and drive home. It’s always a good time to have a chat about the day’s activities and plan for the following day. It’s become tradition for the crew to have basketball game on the Thursday night on an outdoor asphalt court.

Rumour has it that Gypsy (Jeffrey Marshall) our engine builder and long time GRM staff member has lost a little speed and is beginning to become a little more physical in an attempt to intimidate the younger and “skinnier” members of the team (namely Squid, Mitch Feeney fabricator and tyre man). Thankfully they all arrived at the track with no battle wounds on Friday morning.

Moff and Scotty had 2 x 60 minute practice sessions on Friday and the result was both S60 Volvos were in the top 10 with Scotty showing the way with a lap record. Obviously been a race driver requires you to have a very high level of car control and general driving ability, from there much of the rest becomes “mental”, between the ears. V8 Supercars have done a tremendous job on the parity of the cars competing with the entire field of 26 often being covered by mere tenths of seconds. Scotty arrives at Phillip Island and feels good, he likes the place and this positivity from the start has certainly helped shape the success that he has achieved here.

Saturday and a 15 minute morning practice in preparation for qualifying for Race 6 of the Supercar Championship. This weekend each car is allocated five sets of HARD Dunlop tyres. The plan is to use two sets on Saturday in the 120km (27 lap) race and three on Sunday in the 200 km (45 lap) race.

Saturday qualifying was 15 minutes. The plan is to have two separate runs during this period utilising each of the two new sets which will be used later in the race. The car goes out on “old” tyres and warms everything up, particularly the brakes. The driver then returns to the pit lane where the team takes off the old tyres and puts a brand new set on. Of course qualifying requires the driver to do the absolute fastest lap that they can, but they need to be very careful not to lock a brake up and ruin a tyre as you don’t want to have to use any tyres that you have allocated for the next day’s racing.

The car exits pit lane and completes an out lap, which is a lap leading up to the qualifying lap. During this lap the car will swerve side to side to generate heat in the tyres and then on crossing the start/finish line they will put everything into the next lap. As Phillip Island is quite a long lap and demanding on tyres the aim is to try and do your best lap on the first effort. At shorter tracks such as Symmons Plains (Tasmania) the driver may do 2 to 3 laps on each set of green tyres, but here you really want to “save” the tyres for the race.

Following qualifying Scotty yet again showed why he is becoming the “Qualifying King” with a final lap effort on his second set of greens to nudge out Mostert (Prodrive) by 1/100th of a second. Moff on his final lap put the #34 S60 inside the Top 10 in 8th a mere 3/10ths back from Scotty, I was so pleased for James.

Race 6 and I decided with a pole start that I had better find something in my infamous wardrobe. I love the BIG numbers on the cars and for commercial reasons they are difficult to incorporate with sponsor requirements so I had a suit made with BIG numbers. Out it came.

Phillip Island is such a picturesque circuit and with the ocean as back drop the S60 was a fantastic sight on pole position. I find it much more nerve racking watching race starts than I ever did back in my driving days and it was a relief to see Scott get away well and lead into turn 1.

From here he never looked back and with one compulsory stop on lap 6 where the crew completed a quick and smooth change of all four wheels and with a splash of fuel he re-entered the race in 15th, but by lap 16 when all other teams had completed stops Scotty had built up a commanding lead and won from Whincup (888) and Coulthard (DJR Penske) was third. Moff raced at the pointy end of the field all race and did a very solid job to have both Volvo’s finish in the top 10, when he finished 7th.

Saturday night and I left the track very satisfied with the performance of all of our team. I was looking forward to getting home and having a nice cold beer and sitting down to watch my mighty Adelaide Crows. Could my day get any better? YES, the Crows beat the Swans in a thriller. I can’t wait for Sunday!!

Sunday, and after a great night’s sleep I woke up and had high hopes of a successful day. But, as we all know hope is one thing but actions are another. We would have to work harder, try harder and execute better if we were to even go close to repeating Saturday’s success.

In qualifying we did all of that and again Scotty was on pole and Moff improved yet again to be only 2/10ths back in 5th. Whincup (888) joined Scotty on the front row.

Race 7, 200 kilometres (45 laps). There are many strategies that can play out in these races and the intervention of the Safety Car at particular times can certainly influence the decisions made. An often seen problem for many teams is the “double stacking” of cars in pit lane. This occurs when both cars need to pit during a Safety Car period and one must line up behind the other. This race required that each car put in a minimum of 120 litres of fuel during the race.

This amount excludes what you start with. The 120 litres takes 32 seconds to put in the car as the fuel flows at approx. 4litres/sec. and is put in over two pit stops where wheel changes also occur. The cars use approximately 3.6 litres of fuel per lap at Phillip Island so to complete the 45 laps the cars will use approximately 162 litres.

To avoid the chance of double stacking in the event of a safety Car it was decided by the Engineer’s that Moff would stop on lap 1 to take on 15 se conds of fuel and tyres. The cars start on the four “worst” tyres from qualifying and put the eight best on during the race. As much as it was a necessity to stop Moff on lap 1 to eliminate the chance of double stacking it was a shame as he had a tremendous start jumping from 5th to 3rd on the first lap.

Scotty again got off the line well but was matched by Whincup into turn 1. Having the inside line Scotty was able to hold his line and showed great nerve to hold off Whincup as he put a couple of tyres on the grass in a desperate attempt to pressure Scotty into handing over the lead.

As with Saturday’s race, Scotty led brilliantly from the front. Often on television it can look really easy, but often following somebody is easier as they show you the braking marks for each corner. Scotty’s concentration was first class; he never locked a brake or missed an apex of a corner. On lap 10 Scotty completed his first stop and the team did a perfect stop. Again, on television the pit stops look easy, but with brake temperatures nearing 1,000 deg when the cars are stationary the wheel men must be quick and smooth and the fuel man Ian Wilkinson needs to be spot on when inputting the fuel coupling to the side of the car.

The driver must stop right on the mark as if the pit bay is overshot Ian would have to reach for the car which takes precious seconds and wheel changers would have to shuffle forward. Gypsy has the responsibility of being the car controller. He must stand in front of the car and trust that the driver won’t run him do wn and with all of the noise, heat and excitement going on he must make a split second decision on releasing the driver from the pit bay and back into pit lane. He showed tremendous judgement at this stop because as McLaughlin’s car dropped to the ground off the air jacks Tim Slade (Freightliner) loomed up alongside and Gypsy released Scott with only millimetres to spare.

If the cars had have made contact Scott would have been issued with a drive through penalty. Gypsy’s decision under all of the pressure put McLaughlin back out in front, if he had have held him and slipped him in behind Slade the Whincup would have taken the race lead from him. Of course the driver gets much of the credit, but people such as Gypsy are invaluable and often their input to a race result is overlooked. Not in this case Gypsy, well done!

The middle stages of these pit stop races are often a little muddled as to the “real” order of the cars, as some stay out much longer than others depending on their strategy. Car#33 was scheduled for its second and final stop on lap 21 and #34 a lap or so later. There is a time from lap 15 to the time of the scheduled stops where if a Safety Car period resulted that both cars would have to pit. In this instance there was no Safety Car and #33 came in as planned on lap 21 to complete the second and final stop and #34 on lap 23.

By lap 28 all cars had completed their compulsory stops and Scotty had a lead of several seconds over Whincup, Moff was 8th and looking good for yet another top 10 finish. With nine laps from the finish Cam Waters (Prodrive) had a tyre blowout that left debris on the race circuit at turn 1. The Safety Car came out as the Track Marshalls cleaned the circuit. Scotty’s little cushion had been eroded and he now had Whincup hot on his hammer.

On the restart Scotty had his eyes forward and pushed hard, Whincup kept the pressure on and was giving it everything and coming on to the main straight with 6 laps to go Whincup giving it 110% in pursuit of the Volvo went wide and Scotty opened the gap to several car lengths. The resulting loss of momentum resulted in both Winterbottom (Prodrive) and Pye (DJR Penske) passing Whincup. The closing laps are nerve racking for everybody but the Volvo was going strong and Scotty didn’t put a foot wrong to repeat his efforts of Saturday, a race win. Moff had done a really fabulous job all weekend and it was disappointing that in the final laps he had a coming together with Mostert (Prodrive) which was a racing incident and he went from 7th to 15th.

Racing drivers are a different breed, we all take it for granted but what they do is tremendously dangerous and at the elite end they are their own hardest critics. Moff wants success and he can see the potential of our Team, the great part is we can all see his potential. Well done James, you want better, we want better and if we all work hard better is to come.

It’s an old cliché, “the harder that you work the luckier that you get”. Well this weekend nothing was different for all of us at GRM, we continued to work hard as have all of my people for over 50 plus years and we didn’t need any good luck we had great people that all executed their job to perfection. I am so proud of everybody and as much as we clean swept the Supercar proceedings with fastest practice, two poles and two race wins alongside a win and two seconds in DVS my highlight of the weekend was the smiles on all of my people’s faces. I am so happy for them all.

Regards

Garry

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