Adam Sharpe Down Under
Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series – Queensland Raceway
July 21-23 and we're at Queensland Raceway for a combined V8 Supercars
meeting, with the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Development Series in support.
driving the Ford Falcon AU - now a popular ASM performer in UK's
Britcar Series – and with VelocityPay.com.au support, the
car was in its new livery, in time for Friday’s two practice
sessions. The aims were dialling in the car's setup and track familiarisation
for me. An early problem was getting the front tyres up to temperature.
Athough the winter's day was more midsummer by normal UK standards,
the "paperclip" Queensland Raceway circuit has four unusually
long, fast straights that keep the tyres cool. Chief engineer Grahan
Nash decided to use toe-out to increase the temperatures and to
aid the turn-in that had been a secondary issue. This, together
with front and rear rollbar adjustments eliminated the problems
and I immediately cut 1.5 seconds from my lap times.
A starter motor drama just before Saturday morning's qualifier was
resolved in the nick of time, courtesy of Howard Racing's superb
parts support and I set a 1m13.23s compared to pole-sitter Adam
Macrow's 1m11.28s - to secure 26th on the grid: not bad with a five
year old car, with none of the ‘trimmings’ of many out
there. MoTec engineer Alan Stoodley right away began researching
a flat change option for Oran Park.
The first race was dominated by Mark Porter, who led through the
majority of the event, and took a good win from Championship leader
Macrow. I managed to improve my position, up to 21st, with some
late braking into the ‘paperclip’ corners. I was lying
20th on lap 11, and then overtook the Falcon AU's previous owner,
Mark Howard, in his BA - again under braking. Late in the race,
a leading car blew an engine and Howard retook the spot from me,
to place him 18th and me 19th at the chequered flag - though after
penalties against two drivers, we ended up 16th and 17th.
Graham Nash was still working on dialling out more
understeer created by the rules-enforced wing size. The braking
worked well though, and switching to a flat change for Oran Park
will gain us another half-second at least.
Saturday's first V8 Supercars race saw Championship leader Garth
Tander line up on pole with Jason Bright alongside and Stone Brothers'
James Courtney in 3rd position. Tander in his Holden had superior
speed on the straights and left Bright standing for two laps, but
then Jason caught second breath to get in Tander's tow. Although
now fairly evenly matched, Tander continued to dominate as the first
of the pitstops saw Bright dive for pitlane whilst Tander chose
to stay out and build a further lead over four more laps.
After the pitstops unwound, a spin by Skaife had the crowd on their
toes - very partisan these supporters - and the order settled down
with Bright in the lead ahead of Tander, with Courtney and Lowndes
in close pursuit. Overtaking on the outside, Tander finally managed
to put Bright behind him while five cars further back Kelly, Whincup
and Winterbottom stayed glued to each others' bumpers. At the chequered
flag, Tander took a Holden win breaking Ford's dominating presence
at Queensland with Bright second and Courtney taking his first podium
in this class.
Back to the Fujitsu Series, and Sunday's first race, of two, was
a reverse grid from Saturday's race – and I managed my first
top ten finish – from 22nd on the grid.
The team prepared
me a fantastically balanced car, and after a three lap safety car
period, I was able to hold off championship leader Adam Macrow in
a last lap scramble.
It got very busy at one point with multiple spins
at the infamous first corner, but the racing standard is well maintained
by CAMS and I was very impressed at the overall clean racing. Graham
Nash was in top form from the pit wall and Darrell (Dixon)'s mechanics
had put everything into this one.
The Supercar V8 series has abandoned the reverse grid format as
being too dangerous - great for the spectators but costly for too
many teams in damage repairs. The Fujitsu series has kept it though,
and it is accepted as being in many ways the more difficult racing
The last race was a 28-lapper, and after a good start I had a battle
with the Protecnica car driven by Chris Alajajian. Chris got a good
run on me down the pit straight and I gave him room into turn one.
This gave me a great run out of turn one and I got the inside line
into turn two. However, Chris failed to see this and turned in for
the apex, consequently collecting the side of my car. It was disappointing
to have to retire, but only after the team made three attempts to
straighten the bent steering rod. It was definitely my line but
I'm prepared to put it down to a racing incident. We still go home
with our top ten finish in an AU - a great outcome with so many
newer BAs in the field.
next races the VelocityPay.com.au Falcon at Oran Park on 12-13 August.