This weekend held the final round of the 2017 New South Wales Production Touring Cars State Championship. This also means that it was the final race in my Production Touring Toyota 86 as it has recently been sold and is ready to move on to the new owner. I went in to this weekend with many mixed emotions, I really wanted to try and win the Championship, but I also didn’t own the car anymore so I just wanted to return it in one piece and make sure it is in fantastic condition for the new owner. We had a mathematical chance at winning the Championship, but it would mean we needed some luck to go our way for it to happen. I put it all on the line to try and win this title, so let’s find out how the weekend panned out.
Friday was a bit different to what we would usually see... Rather than jumping in my Toyota 86 to put some practice in, I was instead behind the wheel of a Historic Formula Ford to do some tyre testing for the Historic Formula Ford Association. It gave me a good feel for the circuit, but ultimately the first laps I turned in the 86 where on Saturday in qualifying.
Qualifying was going to be an important one, as the starting position in Class D is all affected by the other classed cars surrounding you. I got straight to work and posted a fairly quick lap time, which initially put me up into first position. As the session got close to being over, I was pipped by the tiniest of margins! Dad radioed in and said I had one more flying lap to have a big crack at it. I left nothing on the line, which was evident as I held a big slide through turn one. I came into turn two and slightly missed the first apex, ultimately running me wide and putting an early end to that lap. This meant that we started out of 2nd position, with 1st in class right in front of me.
Race 1 was held at midday on Saturday, I was pumped and ready to fight for the Championship! I lined up on the grid and nailed the launch off the line. I got right behind 1st in class as we made our way into turn two. I went for the outside move but got boxed out by some faster cars. Once we fought for our own bit of real estate for the first lap I finally found myself in clear air, with the target of 1st in class right in front of me. I pushed my little 86 as hard as I could as I fought for the position. It was an almighty battle that raged on for the entire 20 minute race! With 1st driving very defensively, it left me no choice but to try some bold outside maneuvers to try get my car in front. I tried just about everything I could think of but there was no way past, meaning we settled for 2nd in race one.
Race 2 was Sunday morning, bright and early... I was hungrier than ever before to try and claw back some points and fight till the very end for this championship. I got off to another really great start and slotted into 2nd place at turn two. It was looking like a repeat of race number one, up until I put a big move around the outside at turn six, with enough momentum to claim the position and finally get up into 1st place. At this point it was now about posting quick lap times to try and build a margin, which is exactly what happened. I crossed the line in this race 1st in class and took the fight into the last race of the year.
Race 3 was at midday, and yet again I nailed the launch and held my lead through the first couple of turns. Now it was eyes forward and hit all of my marks to claim another gap to 2nd. I eventually ended up winning the final race of the year, which was an absolutely fantastic result. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite enough as we fell short of the State Championship by a mere 7 points. To still claim 2nd overall out of a field of 61 drivers that competed in the State series was an unbelievable achievement and I am so proud of our little team.
Shockwave Signs Motorsport has finally moved the Production Touring 86 out of their hands and moved the car onto a new owner. It has been a fantastic car involved in a fantastic category. Chris Reeves from Triple Zero Racing built this quick little rocketship and it helped me learn so much and develop a lot as a driver. The team has a new project boiling over and I can't wait to release it to all of you... it is going to be awesome!
I want to thank Dad for his big effort this year (which still isn't over!). To run two separate vehicles in two separate categories is always going to be a big task to juggle. Throughout the year we faced many back to back weekends, which took it's toll on many things, business included! I just want to thank Dad as his effort never goes unnoticed, spending every free weekend he has on the garage floor working on ways to make the race cars better.
I also want to thank the Production Touring Cars Association for putting on another successful year of racing, the group of people involved in making this category a success really need a round of applause.
We still have two rounds to go in the National Series so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for all the results!
Photos: Riccardo Benvenuti