Hi all, it has been a really busy few weeks at the Maltby Motorsport workshop. After an unprecedented build-up, I achieved my ambition of competing in the national championship at Round 4 of the Shannons Nationals at Mallala. It was a huge weekend for me and the team.
Friday 29 June was a practice day, so I used the opportunity to gain some more track time and I got some reasonable lap times. In the afternoon, we had the rare chance to do some passenger rides. I decided to take a couple of the more experienced drivers for a spin to get some last-minute pointers. The first session went well, and I was on the warm-up lap for the second ride when a Commodore Cup driver lost control and ploughed into the back of my car. I made it back to the pits, but the Saloon had sustained quite a lot of damage! The rear quarter panel was pushed right in, the bumper was missing, and the diff was leaking a lot of oil. Unfortunately the impact had split my diff housing.
Craig and some helpers had a late night replacing the diff housing and making the bodywork look presentable again. Luckily it was all fixed ok and we were back at the track first thing on Saturday.
I battled some serious understeer to qualify 22nd out of 22. Race 1 on Sunday was very wet and the car was handling terribly. After fighting it for 8 laps, I was finding it difficult to stay in control on the corners and I didn't want to run into another competitor. I felt that pulling into the pits was the best thing for everybody on the track. Unfortunately I no longer have my 100% finishing record, but the car and I lived to race another day!
Craig and Ian spent some time re-adjusting wheel alignment settings for the next race. The weather was a lot better for the rest of the morning - that is, until the Saloons went onto the track for Race 2, when a sudden downpour reduced visibility and traction considerably! Cars were sliding everywhere for the first couple of laps, and on lap 3 all hell broke loose with almost half of the field ending up in the northern hairpin sand (mud) trap. I was able to avoid the chaos, and spent the next 7 laps behind the safety car while the officials cleaned up the mess. When the safety car pulled off we had a 1-lap dash to the finish. I finished 15th out of 17 finishers.
Things finally came together for Race 3 - the sun was shining, the track was dry, and my wheel alignment settings stayed put. The handling still wasn't ideal, but it was a lot better. I used this race to try to get the best lap times possible and to maybe make up a place or two. I worked my backside off for the 12 laps and finished 14th.
Extra special thanks to the following people for making the weekend possible:
- Craig Walkom for all the usual hard work and headaches
- Bruce Heinrich for tuning the car
- Shaun Jamieson for the driving lesson
- Ian Maltby for his help with car set-up
- Paul H & Mr Ed for the Friday night crash repairs