Garry’s race report: Positives to take to Phillip Island

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

Tassie, I always look forward to the trip to the Apple Isle, and the trip began on Wednesday for myself and many of the Wilson Security GRM Crew. The first port of call was Tasmania Gold Club where I thought I would show Moff and Scotty what driving was all about! We really enjoyed the afternoon of golf and it was easy to tell that the drivers have plenty of spare time as they both played like pro’s. The good part was I kept score and as far as I am concerned I won!! Better luck next time boys.

Wednesday night and we had a very enjoyable night at Performance Automobiles in Hobart, Tasmania’s Volvo dealer. Yet again the enthusiasm of the Volvo dealers and their staff and costumers really impresses me and the whole GRM Team. It is incredibly motivating for not only Scotty and James but the whole team really feel the support from the Volvo Dealer Network and we always want to represent them to the best of our ability.

Performance Automobiles are the proud employer of Katy Frankcombe who for the third consecutive year won Volvo Apprentice Mechanic of the year. We were fortunate enough to have Katy join us for the weekend and assist in car preparation and other various racing activities. Katy did a sensational job and her work ethic, manner and attitude is something she should be very proud of. Well done Katy!

Thursday morning in the luxury of a new Volvo XC90 and with Barry chauffeuring me we headed north to Launceston. I really enjoy seeing the countryside and took particular notice of how dry the south of Tasmania is. It may surprise some but Hobart is the third driest Australian Capital city behind Perth and Adelaide. We had a lunch stop ion Ross, a really unique little town that was built around its housing of convicts. It is well known for the “Ross Female Factory” which opened in 1848 and was operational for 6 years, and no, it’s not a factory that “makes” females, but was a jail for female convicts. Certainly worth a visit.

Friday and 2 x 60 minute practice sessions. The Symmons Plains race circuit is really unique in many ways. The first being that it is the shortest track that we race at (2.4 kms), it is the quickest lap time (51-52 seconds), it only has left hand corners excluding one right hand sweeper in the back straight that is taken at full speed, it has the slowest corner of any track, turn 4 hairpin where the car slows below 50 km/h and then accelerates to one of our quickest speeds (excluding Bathurst) of approximately 260 km/h. For spectators there is no better place to watch Supercars as the entire track is visible from most spectator areas.

Prior to practice V8 Supercars had arranged a 100m sprint race for charity. Each team nominated a runner and we chose “Ears” (Kieron Woodger) also known as Volvo Man in his lycra blue suit ran like the wind to be beaten in a photo finish. Congratulations to 888 Apprentice Mechanic Kurt Kostecki.

The tyre allocation for the weekend was Dunlop Soft tyres only. Each car was given 6 sets, and following Friday practice one set had to be handed back leaving 5 sets for Saturday and Sunday, of which two would be used Saturday and three Sunday. Symmons Plains is an ideal circuit for the soft tyre and good hard racing should be the result. In P1 Moff grasped the conditions immediately and was quickest. Scotty was 3/10ths back in 15th. P2 and again a solid session with 30 plus laps completed by both boys, finishing mid field after missing a 3rd flying lap on fresh tyres. Friday night and we were reasonably buoyed by the day.

Saturday and a quick 15 minute practice session followed by a 15 minute qualifying session. In regards to tyres the car goes out on used tyres from a previous meeting and then has to run separate runs of two to three flying laps each on green (new) soft tyres. It’s important not to “overuse” these tyres as they are the ones that need to be used in the race later in the day. Scotty was 8th just over 2/10ths back from Winterbottom (Prodrive) and Moff unfortunately couldn’t match his effort of yesterday and was another 3/10ths back in 23rd.

The entire field of 26 cars was covered by only 7/10ths. I know I say it often, but there is no other form of motorsport where a field of 26 is so close.

Unfortunately our less than expected start to the day worsened. On the out lap for race 4 of the championship Scott reported a miss in his S60. As the cars took their grid positions and with 20 minutes before the race start “Gypsy” Jeff Marshall found that a butterfly on the inlet manifold had broken at one of the hinge ends. Gypsy tried desperately to remove the jammed butterfly on the grid, but with start time approaching and the risk of dropping the broken part into the engine, it was decided to start Scott from pit lane so that he was deemed a starter and pit him after lap 1 and attempt to complete the fix inside a further 8 laps so that we would be deemed a finisher and earn some points. The reason that we chose to start Scott from pit lane and not the start line is that if the car sat on the rev limiter it may it may cause severe engine damage. Gypsy and the boys did a really great job under severe pressure to get Scott back out, although he finished last.

Moff starting back in 23rd did the best that could be expected finishing 20th. At the front Van Gisbergern won from Whincup after passing Lowndes on lap 4 and Whincup at the hairpin on lap 8. I must give Van Gisbergen credit, it was a really calculated and controlled drive with aggression.

Saturday night and dinner with our friends from Volvo Trucks and their local dealer Webster’s. Again, these nights when you have the opportunity to talk to locals and support those that make what we do possible is very enjoyable. Off to bed and ready for Sunday.

Today’s race was over 200 kilometres and required at least two pit stops to change tyres and put in at least 120 litres of fuel. First qualifying and Scotty again was a little over 2/10ths back, this time in 9th and Moff in his best effort so far only 1/10th further back in 14th. Will Davison (Tekno) took pole but unfortunately was penalised two grid positions after mistakenly blocking Courtney (HRT) on his qualifying attempt.

Both Moff and Scotty started well and by lap 4 both were in the top 10. On lap 5 the safety car was deployed and the entire field headed to the pits. Scotty got in and out losing one spot to be 9th but unfortunately after queuing behind Scott and then being blocked on exit Moff went from 10th to 19th. At the front Van Gisbergen led from Winterbottom. The second and final stops to put the balance of the 120 litres of fuel and tyres would be required around lap 40 to 45.

On lap 40 Cam Waters bogged himself in the run off area at turn 4. It appeared a safety car would be immediate and both Scotty and Moff darted in. As it turned out the safety car was delayed a lap and it meant Moff stacked behind Scotty while the race was green, this cost Moff track position as he had worked his way back to 13th, but re-entered the race 21st and was also penalised for pit lane speeding and incurred a drive through penalty. At the front Van Gisbergen pressed on from Winterbottom and Lowndes. Scotty was making ground and passed Mostert, and then on lap 80 Van Gisbergen slid off in oil at turn 4 and Davison (Tekno) passed both Lowndes and Winterbottom to take the win. Scotty was one place further back in 4th. Moff benefitted from some DNF’s but put together some very good lap times to finish 16th.

All in all an up and down weekend but plenty of positives to take to Phillip Island.

Look forward to seeing you all in less than two weeks and we will be working to report good news!


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