All systems were go for our second National round for 2007 - the car was running & handling very well, I got some extra tutoring from National Champion Bruce Heinrich, and no Commodore Cup cars crashed into me during sponsor rides. The team and I breathed a sigh of relief when qualifying started on Saturday and nothing major had gone wrong.
I was quite happy with my qualifying times. I matched my personal best lap time of 1:24.2 in the first session, and although my best was 1:25.2 in the second session, the whole field was almost exactly one second slower so I must have been consistent. Overall my times were very consistent, which shows I must be improving! I have recently been reading Ross Bentley's Speed Secrets 2 which is a great book and I think it has helped me.
As with all National meetings at Mallala, the three races were 12 laps each, which is longer than I am used to - the state rounds generally consist of 6, 8 & 10 lap races. The weather was sunny and warm which meant it was very hot inside the car. I kept the driver's side window down most of the time, even though my crew chief tells me off for this for creating unnecessary drag!
During Saturday's race 1, I managed to improve on my best time slightly with a 1:24.1. I started 19th out of 19 and finished 14th. Once again my times were fairly consistent with several 24s in a row.
Race 2 on Sunday morning was just as warm. I started 14th and finished 13th, mainly due to a few non-finishers. I was consistent again in this race with a number of 24s. I had a minor bingle which resulted in a broken left front bumper bracket and a droopy bumper bar, along with a broken left front indicator. A check of the parts bin revealed several right hand bumper brackets but no lefts - luckily we had a couple of rolls of blue racing tape (gaffer tape and cable ties can fix anything). The car was patched up enough to look presentable for race 3.
Race 3 was a little more eventful, with a bump into the back of Grace's car on the first lap. It was a reasonably hard bump, but I didn't realise until we were in parc ferme that this broke the grille, bumper, and headlight and bent the front of the bonnet. I started 13th and finished 15th after a couple of 'offs', including one that cost me 10 seconds. There is nothing more frustrating than losing ground in the early laps, and spending the rest of the race 1/4 of a lap behind the next car. I put in some reasonable lap times, but there was nothing I could do to make up that much time.
To my surprise, especially after trailing so far behind in the last race, I was awarded a trophy for coming 2nd out of the older model cars. Grace Monterosso was 1st and George Diamond 3rd. I was very happy to get my first ever motorsport trophy, and bored everyone in my office with photos of it the next day. Even though I was last on the track, I had finished every race and drove my butt off putting in some good consistent lap times, so I was pleased to have something to show for it!
Thanks once again to my crew Craig, Ian, Reg and Little Craig, and of course Mr Ed for the panel repairs. Thanks also to Bruce Heinrich for sharing some of his driving secrets.