'Stevie J' takes the reins

  • 01/04/2015
  • By Steven Johnson
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Not only did I take over John Bowe's 'Mustang Sally' for the Tassie weekend while he was away at the Dunlop Super Dealers conference, I've also hijacked his V8 Supercars column this week - greetings from the John Bowe bunker!

It was an interesting weekend (for me) -this is how I saw the drivers' and teams' performances at the Symmons Plains round.

It's not often I have the opportunity to keep a broad eye on all the teams and observe what they're working on; some had a strong weekend while others definitely didn't hit their sweet spot at all.

Certainly topping the list was Craig Lowndes. In my opinion his was the absolute standout performance of the weekend. Sure, he made an error at the start of Sunday's race at turn two, spinning out Dave Reynolds and copping a drive through - but he showed his class (and speed of his car) to drive through the field to recover to sixth place.

Whoever said when you hit 40 you slow down?

Will Davison was another to standout, showing great speed with three top 10 qualifying performances, but only got a seventh place to show for it in race two. Will was up the front all weekend in all practice and qualifying sessions - that's a great sign for Erebus Motorsport, who are making gains towards consistently aiming at the pointy end.

I must give Andre Heimgartner's performance a special mention; on a circuit he's never seen before, mind you. Andre put in qualifying efforts that were not only in the top 10, but in front of guys like teammate Mark Winterbottom, Garth Tander, James Courtney and fellow Kiwis Fabian Coulthard and Scotty McLaughlin - that's a pretty tidy effort.

To top it off he'd never driven on 'new' soft tyres until the Sunday race, so to finish in P8 was a stellar job and one that hasn't gone unnoticed. A big golf clap from me.

Probably the big disappointment for the weekend was McLaughlin. After his strong showing last year I was really expecting him to almost dominate this weekend but his GRM Volvo really looked like a big struggle, even in the wet session.

After posting his worst qualifying result in the Volvo -I know Scotty, his engineer Richard Holloway and Garry, so take it from me -don't write them off. They had their first Championship win last year at Wanneroo and will work day and night to get back to the front.

No doubt the biggest talking point leading into and during the weekend was the exit of Marcos Ambrose from driving duties of the #17 DJR Team Penske Falcon. I know there was a lot of Tassie fans pretty disappointed with this but he felt things needed a change to find the missing link within the team - it was a big call by Marcos.

I know progress was made over the weekend with Scott Pye behind the wheel; time will tell if the team can get back to the pointy end where they need to be. It's a reminder of how hard this category is - people might have forgotten how many years it took Roland Dane and Triple Eight to transform to where they are today.

It took years after their purchase of the then Briggs Motorsport team for them to find success and that is with (in my opinion) the smartest engineer in the category, Ludo Lacroix.

I'm looking forward to the next round at Wanneroo - it's a risk/reward circuit. It's very hard on tyres, you can push at the start and build a gap then hope the tyres hang in or you can race to a lap time and (hopefully) have some tyres left at the end of the race to attack. The circuit really rewards smooth patient driving.

Anyway, that's all from me - I'll hand the reins back to JB for his piece next week before we head to Perth.

So until then - peace out,
Stevie J

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