Okay, that’s Hamilton run & won.
Again by Garth Tander for HRT. I have to say though, that it’s easy to win races when you start on pole at a street circuit, while the rest of the field battles over the spoils as far as positions go, behind you. Plaudits to Tander for his drive, but realistically, he was never tested. Sure, safety cars come & go, but when you’ve got the front running and can literally decide when the hammer goes down, you’re always guaranteed to get a jump on the second and third placed cars.
I can’t say I was all that impressed with race two. It seemed to be as if race two was race three to a lot of drivers. They had to make up places in order to get the points, which was stupid tactics given that everyone knew another race was in the offing. Haste makes waste and tyres are limited under the current rules. It was fairly easy to see by race three who’d used up their allocation in race two, for no benefit. I dare say the Driving Standards Officer and Investigation and Prosecuting officer will be having a very close look at the in-car footage of the race with regard to several drivers between now and Barbagallo in three weeks time. There are several teams which will need to undertake complete rebuilds of racecars over that time, courtesy of driver exuberance and Hamilton’s concrete barriers.
I continue to be impressed by 19 year old Shane Van Gisbergen. He drives like a master, albeit a young master with all that entails. He has a lot yet to learn, but clearly, he’s not afraid to mix it with the experienced ‘name’ drivers. Stone Brothers have again chosen well. They did it with Marcos Ambrose and now with Van Gisbergen. I found the performance of James Courtney to be much more refined this weekend, undoubtedly due to, as Neil Crompton stated during the telecast, a ‘chat’ held between team principals and Courtney between rounds. Reading between the lines, I dare say Courtney has been read a version of the Stone Brothers riot act which says that if you can’t stay out of trouble, bring the car home AND put points on the board, then you can find another team to punt for. Bravado before the microphone aside, I’d suggest that Courtney is now being performance managed. Interesting that Crompton should make mention of the chat between Courtney’s management, the driver and team management, when everyone knows that Courtney’s manager is Crompton himself. Fairly large loss of face involved for Crompton if Courtney’s contract were to be scrapped at the end of 2008.
I was sorry to see Tony D`Alberto end the weekend with a DNF. I missed the action in which he was sidelined, but dare say it came about from an incident in race three where he tangled with another car, damaging the rear axle of the Bottle-O car. He’s learning, and will continue to do so as the season progresses. I’m eagerly awaiting the Queensland round in mid-July when I’ll have a chance to chat with him and give you – the reader – some insights into the mind of a V8 Supercar steerer.
So that’s it! I can’t say I’m overly impressed with Hamilton as a circuit, even though it reminds me strongly of Adelaide in it’s early days. CAMS have already made changes to the circuit for races two & three today, and more will come for next years event, that much is certain. I don’t doubt that the event will continue to grow in popularity, especially among those across the dutch. Street circuit racing is somewhat of an oddity for V8 Supercars, given that from 14 events, we see only Adelaide, Gold Coast and now Hamilton as ad-hoc race tracks. I don’t regard Bathurst as a street circuit, despite the fact that it’s a tourist road for 98% of the year. Let’s be honest and acknowledge that Mount Panorama is more a purpose built race track than any other in Australia today. My feeling is that for the current crop of drivers to ever come to terms with street circuits, there has to be more of them, or the carnage we saw this weekend to cars and team budgets is only going to continue to be inevitable. Next year we’ll see Townsville join the street circuit collection, replacing the usual Willowbank Queensland round. Probably a good thing, as Willowbank must be as boring as batshit for a driver to circulate on. Means a plane far for me to get there, but we’ll see in 2009. Townsville’s inclusion will mean four street circuits in the 2009 season and depending on date placement, it might just be beneficial to have raced at Adelaide & Hamilton before going there. Perhaps the repair bills from Townsville might be reduced with experience.
The championship points have changed markedly, and no surprise given that Jamie Whincup didn’t have the opportunity to show his wares this weekend. We’re only at round three, so for me, there’s no need to panic just yet. Yes, I’d love to see him take out the title. Being honest, I’d like to see a Ford take the title. In fact, anyone but Garth Tander. He reminds me too much of a younger Mark Skaife in the Skyline days. Arrogant, self-assured and not the least bit reserved. Good on him for winning, but there’s ever such a fine line between being acceptable to the fan-base, and appearing to be overtly elitist. For mine, the jump into HRT simply smacks of opportunism, over-confidence and a born-to-win persona. Anyway, enough of my likes and dislikes. See you again in three weeks.
Points Table after Round Three