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.

dailysportscar.comI’m driving the Ford Falcon AU - now a popular ASM performer in UK's Britcar Series – and with 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 format.

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.

Adam Sharpe next races the Falcon at Oran Park on 12-13 August.


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