My VN Commodore had the weekend off as I was given the opportunity to race Josh Kean's VT. This was my first shot at the 'outright' class for the late model Saloon Cars.
We started with Friday practice so I could get used to the unfamiliar car. VTs have independent rear suspension so they handle quite differently to VNs. The power & torque curve is also different, and they rev to a higher limit so shift points are different. In the first practice session I was 8th out of 17 with a 1:21.7391 - already about one second faster than my personal best time in the VN.
In the second and third practice sessions I improved the lap times a bit more, ending up with a 1:21.3101 as my best lap for the day.
Saturday was fine and sunny with perfect conditions apart from a slightly dusty track. I was 12th out of 24 cars in first qualifying, and 8th in the second session. This put me 12th overall and that is where I started in race 1.
As I got more familiar with the VT, I got more confident and was able to keep chipping away at the lap times. Race 1 was a good close race with plenty of dicing for position. The group I was racing with all had very similar lap times with only a few tenths separating us. I ended up finishing 10th with a best lap time of 1:21.0227.
Unfortunately Sunday was very wet and windy and races 2 & 3 were cut back from 14 laps to 10 each for safety reasons. I didn't really agree with this decision as we are meant to race in all weather and conditions - it's not Nascar! I believe racing is supposed to be a test of car and driver, it's not meant to be easy... While the track was definitely wet, we have raced in far worse conditions at Bathurst and Phillip Island in the past.
The conditions weren't too bad for race 2. The track was damp but there was a bit of a dry line starting to show. The rain started again about 2/3 of the way through, however with some heat already in the tyres it didn't change things too much. I still had some fun and finished 9th out of 24.
Before race 3, the sun came out and we were looking forward to a better race. We put the car back to a dry setup and headed out to the form up area. The heavens then opened and some very heavy rain set in. Some parts of the track were completely underwater and I have never seen Mallala that bad. I could not get any traction off the start line and lost about 10 places straight away. I managed to stay on the track for most of the race and eventually finished 17th.
Huge thanks to Craig Walkom for arranging the drive in the VT, and of course to Chris and Josh Kean of Adelaide Motors BMW for trusting me with their pride & joy.
Thanks also to my regular sponsors Frank Walsh Drilling, and the car sponsors Australian Crash.
Photos by Rosalie and Darren Siddell