Adam Sharpe Down Under
Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series – R1 Adelaide
Sharpe Motorsport had a promising first outing in the extremely
competitive and popular V8 Supercar feeder category at Adelaide
last weekend (March 24 – 25) - in the Phronim / LifeForce
/ VelocityWise.com Ford Falcon. Here Adam reports on the first pair
of races - and comments on the V8 Supercar races, and the whole
even sat in the Falcon prior to the first test session on Thursday,
and went out on the Adelaide Clipsal 500 Street circuit having only
driven the track half a dozen times the day before, in our team’s
rent a van vehicle - including a couple of laps during which I gained
some useful insight from the very experienced Mark Howard, of the
Howard Racing Team.
The Falcon is
considerably different from the cars we run in the UK. We run a
different construction and compound Dunlop tyre in Britcar, which
enables us to run a much stiffer car. The Falcon in Australia is
very softly sprung, as the tyres seem to be a much harder compound,
and this is the way they are able to find the much needed grip.
During the second
test session on Thursday, I set a 1:31, bringing that down to a
1:29 in the afternoon.
I was able to
push the Falcon ever harder. It was very interesting for me to follow
the series’ experienced V8 drivers and compare our older AU
against their newer BA Falcons – it seems as though the biggest
difference is the ability to turn in better and brake stronger in
the BAs. We were still learning lots as a team and planned to change
some more on the setup of the car for qualifying.
qualifying and even quicker times. I was desperate to get back in
the car in the morning, and managed to put in a 1:26 lap, 22nd on
the grid in a field of 33 cars. The team was overjoyed with the
first three days of the meeting, with Darrell Dixon managing the
mechanics and the very experienced ex-Howard Race Team engineer,
Alan Stoodley, overseeing the car; all was working very much to
That was a great
leap forward for me and the Aussie ASM team. I felt very comfortable
in the Falcon and it was well set-up for the race to come.
1 – Friday March 24
up a few places quickly in Friday evening's race and was 19th by
A hefty dose
of oversteer on the very slippery final corner turning into pit
straight dropped me back to 24th but steady progress over the next
11 laps saw progress, up to 18th - until an incident brought the
safety car out on track. Shortly after the safety car appeared,
I was shown a black flag (enforced stop) owing to sparks created
by the left side exhaust pipe dragging on the tarmac. A swift stop
and some running repairs to the exhaust and I was back out during
lap 20. I came home 19th - which wasn’t too bad for a first
race in the series, especially bearing in mind the two delays. At
least I’d got the first one under my belt.
racing! Bumper to bumper and door to door, the first half of the
race was brilliant.
2 – Saturday March 25
grid positions based on the result of Race 1, I started 19th. The
car was going well and during the first few laps I moved up to 16th.
Unfortunately, the engine then started to overheat, and in trying
to find cooler air off the racing line, I lost a couple of places.
You can’t get away with a problem like this in this series.
I pitted for
a check over, resumed racing – but the problem was still there,
and I had no choice to retire. Following a more detailed post-race
inspection of the engine, it was diagnosed that an injector had
failed causing the drop in power.
At least I saved
the engine. I’ll be back in Australia in May, for the Wakefield
Park meeting, where I’ll be able to seek out some more of
the goings on in the main Supercar Series. Now it’s back to
the UK, and Britcar at Oulton Park.
played my part in the Fujitsu races, next up were the ‘main
game’ teams, cars and drivers. The crowd was ever increasing
in the build up to the first race – a record crowd was predicted
and it was said to out-sell the Melbourne GP next week! Both races
were to be 78 laps and approximately 250km in length. Craig Lowndes
(Q - 3rd), of Team Betta Electrical run by 888 Race Engineering,
went on to take victory with his team mate Jamie Whincup taking
third. The two were split on the podium by Holden Racing Team’s
Todd Kelly who took a second place finish. It was a remarkable effort
by all the drivers, with one car’s internal temperature soaring
as high as 61oC. Most of the drivers were heavily dehydrated, with
some of them resorting to drastic methods of recovery, including
ice baths and IV drips. The gorgeous pit girls that roamed the paddock
had little problem in the heat, as most were wearing little more
than hot pants and bikini tops!!
in Adelaide was a real party night, with a huge concert and a street
party that rolled in to the small hours of Sunday morning. Some
of the large team sponsors included Jim Bean and Jack Daniels, whose
presence was greatly appreciated by revellers at the street party.
It included Aussie rock music on the main stage, private parties
in the surrounding bars, arcade and racing games, entertainment
areas and even the loud roar of the Coopers Ferrari, which won the
2004 Bahrain GT Festival, being revved up in the main street, much
to the crowd’s delight!
With Craig Lowndes
on pole for the second race, the crowd seemed to be waiting with
bated breath in the build up to Sunday’s main event. The race
was unfortunately littered with bad luck and dramatic incidents,
with Mark Skaife running wide and crashing into the wall - the same
wall he had hit at 207 km/h on Saturday - at the very quick turn
eight, following Greg Murphy who had been forced out wide by one
of the Jack Daniels Racing Holdens, giving Skaife no chance. Following
this, a pile up on Wakefield St, just after turn three, saw Craig
Lowndes running right at the back of the field - he had been unlucky
in having to run a long pit stop due to a broken front splitter,
as a result of a tussle at the front of the pack with Cameron McConville.
James Courtney was to have a turn of bad luck too: as he and others
moved to avoid a slower car in turn 2, contact was made which sent
Courtney into a spin across the circuit and he was then T-boned
pretty hard to put him truly out of the race. This left the 888
driver, Jamie Whincup, up front to lead the race after a great team
effort by Team Betta Electrical. Jamie went on to take the well
deserved chequered flag and his first V8 Supercar victory in the
#88 Betta Electrical Ford Falcon, Todd Kelly made the podium for
his second runners-up position of the weekend and his younger brother
Rick Kelly of the Toll HSV Dealer Team finished third to complete
the podium line up.
The podium celebrations
included a loud chant from Ford fans to the 2nd and 3rd place Holden
drivers of the Kelly brothers, which mainly consisted of ‘I
wish I had a Ford, I wish I had a Ford’ repeated continuously
– this was in response to the commentator’s question
to Kelly of ‘So, what did you think of the race?’ They
then followed with ‘Whincup, Whincup, Whincup’, until
he appeared on the top step of the podium. Then to top it off a
rather different chant was started by the same group of blokes,
this time aimed towards the bikini wearing grid girls who were presenting
the champagne to the podium drivers – a great atmosphere,
the fans really do make the event special.
I had a quick
word with 888 founder, Ian Harrison, who was very happy with the
team’s efforts during the weekend. He said ‘this meeting
is always brilliant – a great result for the team and the
young lad (Jamie Whincup)’. This result will see Whincup at
the top of the championship going into the next championship round.
I had been lucky
enough to experience the whole of the second race from the Stone
Brothers Racing pit garage, watching the race on the big screen
whilst seeing all the action that goes on behind the scenes during
the race itself. The pit stops were as quick as F1 and the team
spirit was very noticeable, with back room staff cheering as they
saw their drivers passing other cars during the race. However, Ross
Stone and his team will have a long and hard week ahead of them
repairing and setting up the damaged Courtney car for the Melbourne
AGP race. It had been a hard day at the office for the Stone Brothers