Feb 242008

Round one, race one and all went very well, I thought.

Of course, there are many, many changes. As Neil Crompton said, what’s a new season without a new points system? This year, we see 300 points up for grabs for a round win. 300 points!!!! What ever happened to the simple days of 15 points for a win and run down the line to position 10 or twelve? 300 points!!!?? All 30 starters (soon to be 28 given a recent decision to cut the number of Level One licences) now accrue points. Way to go in the complication stakes, guys. Oh, and just by-the-by, Channel Seven…..can you do the techo split screen stuff with CAD drawings before the race starts, instead of during the action? Thanks for that. Not that I don’t appreciate being given the low-down on the new 72-vane front disc broke rotor and the super-snickerty exploded CAD views from Harrop Engineering, but when the race is running, I’d rather watch it than try to make out what’s in the one-quarter split which is covering most of the real racing drama.


Then there’s the rules for Compulsory Pit Stops. In the bigger rounds, like Clipsal, Bathurst (obviously) and Phillip Island a fuel stop will be compulsory, as well as one for tyres. Being tested is a provision for “any number of Discretionary Pit Stops during which the Cars may be refuelled”.

There will be two (2) CPS’s for each Car in each Leg of the Clipsal 500 Adelaide.

  • 3.2 At one (1) of these CPS’s, each Car must have a minimum of two (2) wheels/tyres changed.
  • 3.3 At the other CPS, each Car must be refuelled. It is strictly forbidden to change any wheels/tyres during this CPS.
  • 3.4 Subject to the preceding Supplementary Regulations 2.4.2 and 2.4.3, any other work may be carried out on a Car during a CPS.
  • 3.5 The CPS’s must be commenced within the following ‘windows’ expressed as laps completed by the leading Car:
    Leg 1 & 2 – Lap 20 and lap 55
  • 3.6 During each Leg of the Race, Teams may make any number of Discretionary Pit Stops (“DPS”) during which the Cars may be refuelled.
  • 3.7 In accordance with Rule D11.1.2.7, a Judge of Fact will be appointed to determine when a Car commences a CPS.

Currently, any car has the freedom to make any number of ‘Discretionary Pit Stops” and they do, but re-fuelling is normally a no-no, except for the enduros. A bizarre trial, to be sure.
Of interest are the new driver/teams from the Fujitsu Series which have made the move to the ‘Big Game’. Rod Nash Racing with Tony D’alberto aboard; Paul Weel Racing with Andrew Thompson at the wheel, Walden Motorsport – Garth Walden. Interestingly, PWR have listed both of their Level One licences for sale, so Thompson is either racing under an upgraded Level Two licence or one Level One licence has been withdrawn. Walden Motorsport must have upgraded from a Level Two to a Level One at the cost of $750,000. An extraordinary impost.
I can’t say too much for Thompson or Walden, but I did watch Tony D’alberto closely. I have a contact on the inside of his second major sponsor, so news is fresh. He’s as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Little fish in a big pond, he’s suddenly surrounded by huge, hungry predators all only too willing to overwhelm him in their rush to the front. He’ll do okay once he comes to terms with the cat & dog fight which the big game is, but until then, Adelaide is hardly the place for a début. It’s kill or cure for Tony, but I have every confidence that he’ll rise to the occasion. Started 24 yesterday and finished 17, which, given a pace car right at the death put him in the top gaggle of five front runners, was a creditable effort, I thought. Today we’ll get a better look at his mettle. He’s never had to back up in a championship series like the top level of V8’s. The Fujitsu Series was one thing, but the main game is entirely different.
The disappointments from he day were surely the complete non-performance of HRT, despite Tander’s bolt at the start. Skaife performed as I fully expected him to, and despite his constant whining about the car, the track surface and weather conditions, the simple fact remains that he’s not in tune with what he needs to do, and that’s drive as one with the car. I don’t recall Peter Brock ever blaming as many uncontrollable variables for poor performance as Skaife does. The oh-so unfortunate touch-and-go between Courtney and Jason Richards which ruptured a front right tyre on the Stone Brother’s Falcon and any chance of James Courtney making a mark on the championship opener was, as I say, unfortunate. A racing incident, which surely the Driving Standards Officer & Investigating and Prosecuting Officer will treat as just that. Still, that car was enormously quick and well driven by the 27 year old, which bodes well for the season. On the subject of SBR, I was pleased to see the youngster, Van Gisbergen being given a go in Russell Ingall’s vacated seat. He bears watching. A quiet achiever, he’s survived his debut year in 2007, and risen in the ranks to a top level team.
On Russell Ingall, I can only repeat my admonishment from late last year. Why, Russell? Why go racing with Captain Crash and the Cane Paddock Bashers? Couldn’t you get a decent ride with anyone else? Aaaah, how the mighty do fall. Champion in 2005, chump in 2008.
Onward to race two……wish I was there. If you’re there, don’t forget to share your pics.

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