Toyota 86 Touring Car
NSW Production Touring Cars Championship Round 6: Wakefield Park
This round marked our last trip to Goulburn for the year, it also marked our last "Sprint" round, meaning from here on out for the rest of the year, we concentrate on Endurance races! This round was a really interesting one, we had many things thrown at us as a team. It came from mixed weather conditions, to difficulty with car set up... let's start with Friday practice!
Friday practice was definitely more eventful than the last few rounds we have had in this car. Right before this round we went through some changes in the front end of the car. The main reason for this was tyre life, we were destroying tyres before this round so it was something we had to address. We concentrated on tweaking the wheel alignment, which was quite a big risk, we knew we had a fast car after Eastern Creek, so changing the car could have made it a lot slower. I went out for a few runs and the lap times just weren't fast... It was looking pretty concerning at this point in time. After a brief chat with the guys at Suspension Concepts, we made the changes we thought the car needed. I went back out and the changes where a lot better, I dropped straight into a personal best lap time, now it was just a matter of seeing how the tyres lasted over a full weekend of racing!
Friday night I wanted to get a good night sleep because I knew I had a big day on Saturday, including one warm up, followed by Qualifying and Race 1... The only thing keeping me awake was the heavy winds and pouring rain, meaning I now had the mindset of a wet day.
When I got to the track on Saturday, the track was dry much to my surprise! I got ready for warm up as the dark clouds circulated over the track. Right before we jumped out to warm up, the rain came, making for a slippery race track. We were confident that the rain was going to pass and that we would have a dry Qualifying session, so we left the car on dry settings and went on track to slide around and have some fun. I spent a lot of the session playing with some of the settings in the car to see what reacted best in wet weather, but before I knew it, the 10 minute session was over. We ended up 2nd in class for this session, but we kept a straight car and knew we had something to prove if the track was dry for qualifying.
We struck some luck, as the track perfectly dried out right before our qualifying session. I went out and pushed hard from the outset, then it started to lightly rain as the session was drawing near the end. I came into the pits and sat there watching the times of the competitors still out on track. I did enough early on in the session to claim Pole Position in class, meaning it was now all eyes on Race 1.
As we all prepared to get ready for Race 1, we watched the rain turn to hail for a brief moment, before it all seemed to disappear... for now anyway! The track was slightly damp for the first few laps, making it very slick but I could feel the track gaining grip very quickly. I got off to a reasonable start, but reigning NSW Champion Chris Reeves in 2nd place got off to a much better launch, bringing him right up behind me. After a brief safety car period, the race was on between Reeves and I! We had a fantastic dice and I really had to work hard for the win, all the experience came out for Chris in this race and I had a lot of fun trading fastest laps with the Champ! I crossed the line in 1st in this race, claiming the fastest lap on the very last lap of the race. Those fastest laps are all very valuable Championship points for me as I try to come back from missing the first round.
Sunday arrived for the weekend and Goulburn put away all of the miserable weather to turn on a beautiful day. I couldn't wait to jump out on track for Race 2! Race 2 got off to a clean start, I pushed hard early on to build a strong margin over 2nd place and maintained lap times quicker than my qualifying time for a few laps, concentrating hard on consistency. I crossed the line for another 1st place and fastest lap.
Race 3 was the feature race, bumping it up to 15 laps rather than the first two races which where 10 laps each. I got off to one of my best starts in this car, which made me very happy as it has been one of my weaker points going into this round. I finally have my head around how to get the ultimate launch capability out of this car. I had a fun race, pushing really hard to see what kind of lap time I could get this car to achieve. I broke my personal best lap time multiple times before the race came to an end! This completed our weekend winning 3 out of 3 races, posting the fastest time in each session. This is now back to back perfect rounds claiming maximum points in the Championship race!
The best part of the weekend was the fact that the tyres where still in a good condition! This means we have found a nice balance that is nice to the tyres, whilst still making sure the car is fast. We ticked a lot of boxes this weekend as a team, now we concentrate on the endurance races to round out the year.