So the first race has been and gone, and thankfully we made it further than 3 laps this time! With PI due to be our first race, and having it hampered with gearbox issues, we were grateful to enter the VSRC State Round with everything sorted.
Friday was practice, and we used it to shake down the car after it’s gearbox rebuild. Punched a few laps out in the first session, came back in, checked everything – A-ok. Phew! Not even a leak anywhere, so we were stoked. Ben did a fantastic job of putting everything back together, can’t thank him enough.
The next few sessions were hampered by red flags and cold conditions, so not too much was gleaned from Friday. We knew the car was running well so that was all that mattered.
Saturday morning was Qualifying. This was a whole new experience for Dane and we were feeling quite nervous, but that soon left the system as DBSR1 exited pit lane. Spent a lap warming up the tyres, then prayed that there was enough heat and started to pick up some speed. It’s unnerving at Sandown as you don’t have too many corners to work out how much heat you have in the tyres. You come into the braking zone for turn 1 and hope that there is grip! Unfortunately on the third flying lap Graham Smith had a spin and ended up in the gravel trap as you entered the second to last corner. This was quite a dangeroud positon to be in, so the session was red flagged and ended early. We’d only managed to put down a few laps, and the times were quite poor, but we managed to qualify 12th out of 15 for the upcoming first race.
It was a lesson learned – you can’t build yourself up in qualifying. You need to go out, get some heat and start punching out quick laps immediately even if the conditions are poor as you never know what will end up happening in the session.
Race 1 was held the same afternoon, and even more nerve racking than qualifying. Butterflies were building prior to the race, but we knew these would dissipate once the flag dropped… well we hoped anyway. Car ready to roll, we headed to the dummy grid on slicks to line up. As we sat there patiently we were informed that there was a slight issue… the track had no power. Apparently an incident on Dandeong Rd had knocked out all power, and repairs were needed. Unfortunately by the time the issue had been resolved the days only rain shower had decided to spice things up a bit. Freezing temperatures, mositure and slicks is not an ideal scenario for one’s first race… dang. Oh well, there wasn’t anything to do but suck it up and give it a go. We headed out onto the track and the DBSR1 made it no further than the straight between turn 1 and 2 before pirouetting off the track… oops. Turns out it was quite slippery… With no harm done DBSR1 rejoined the festivities and took up grid positon 16 at the back of the pack.
The 30 second board was shown… then the lights went on… 5 second board is shown… pick up the revs to 8000rpm….lights go out, clutch pops and… nothing. Stalled! Oh dear… restart the car, pick up the revs and let it rip. We were quite ways back, but the red SR3 of Brett Dickie had also stalled and was struggling to get going, and DBSR1 overtook it heading into turn 1. Despite the rubbish start the rest of the field was obviously being very cautious in the treacherous conditions ans we managed to catch the pack towards the end of the first lap. A moment into turn 11 allowed Brett through, and we continued chasing down the pack. Unfortunately Bloomie had a failure which led to the beautifully presented ‘Okie Dokie’ 2012 SR3 Cup Car being backed into the wall at the exit of 4, triggering a safety car. The conditions worsened, and with cars and debris strewn all over the track from various offs the race was red-flagged under SC and marked a non-event.
Very tricky introduction to racing indeed, but valuable experience none the less. Below are a few images from the day, more to come on Sunday with Race 2 and 3 shortly.
Big thanks to Jesse Cox, Ryan Dhondy and Dan Egan for the great snaps.
More shots from Jesse can be found on Radical Team Melbourne’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RadicalTeamMelbourne