Well, you can guess where I’ve been all day. The beer’s cold, the action is good and I’m just champing at the bit waiting for tomorrow.
There’s not much to say about the Top Ten Shootout, other than commiserations to Russell Ingall. That extra poofteenth of brake pressure at the wrong time can really screw your day. Lee Holdsworth was extra impressive for a young bloke doing a top ten TV stunt for the very first time. All plaudits must go to Mark Winterbottom though. The Ford Performance Racing Falcon literally flew around the circuit, twitching occasionally, but generally a tidy lap. There was a brief moment exiting the Chase when I thought time had been lost, but clearly not with a time of 2:07.090 for 6.213 kilometers.
A nod also to Steven Johnson, who hurled the #17 Jim Beam Falcon around Mt Panorama in a remarkable fashion after ‘walling’ the car during the morning’s unofficial practice session. The hit looked worse than it obviously was, but as the driver admitted later, he’d made a mistake and paid the penalty. With a new right front corner the machine gave every appearance of being back to 100% but even a masterful edge-of-the-envelope performance from Steven couldn’t haul the machine to an unassailable position. Mind you, having been a DJR detractor of late, I’m only too happy to eat a little crow following the performance of that team today. Pulling a damaged car back together and then putting that car on P4 in one hot lap is a feat few teams could manage.
I have to admit that I was impressed by Skaife as well. His lines weren’t as radical as some and he definitely played conservative, but so very, very smooth and calculated. Only goes to prove that you needn’t be on the ragged edge to perform well at Mt Panorama. P2 is nothing to be cranky about. Lowndes fluffed his fast lap on the very first corner, and knew it. The in-car camera shot immediately afterwards, showing the brief but telling shake of the head, spoke volumes. He never recovered those tenths of a second. Still, for all teams and drivers, tomorrow is race day and the television go-for-show is now done & dusted. Good thing too. As exciting as it may be, punting $250,000 of racecar, team hopes and sponsors desires around the most dangerous of all racetracks, on one hot lap for the grand sum of $5,000 and some short-lived kudos is really beyond the pale. The main event is tomorrow, 161 laps of 6.213 kilometres over what is arguably the most difficult racetrack in the world. Who’ll win it? Wait & see.