One thing you have to agree with – the Kiwis love their motor racing. I think next to Bathurst, the Pukekhoe round is the most enjoyable V8 Supercar race meeting I’ve been to this year. The hospitality and organisation is second to none I reckon!
Looking back, we have a Championship leader run by a team who’ve been easily the best/fastest team all year in pit lane – they had a bad weekend on the Gold Coast.
We headed across the ditch to a good old fashioned race circuit and PRA had their horror round behind them and I reckon you could feel the heightened expectation as the leading teams settled to aim battle.
In all of my visits to NZ I’ve been racing, I saw this meeting from a different perspective and like the fans I was hoping for a great weekend of racing. The circuit is ballsy, fast and rewards the brave - so you have a great recipe for success or potential disaster.
In practise it was clear who was consistently fast - J Whincup, D Reynolds, C Lowndes, S Pye, S McLaughlin and SVG were all in the mix from the outset.
For the first time in ages I had the opportunity to watch the behaviour of the cars and drivers from different spots around the circuit. I could see who had it all out (so to speak)! I didn't need a timing screen to see who’d qualify in the Top Ten – I could see from their car speed with my own eyes.
In particular the last part of the circuit, sector three, was some of the best action I’ve ever witnessed – it was ragged edge stuff, just a whisker from tossing it all away on many occasions.
The fast guys were very fast and super committed, it showed plenty about their car set-up and metal as drivers. Seriously folks, this is the most competitive motorsport category in the world, to see it at such close quarters was awesome. Any category that has Garth Tander finish with a best result of 10th is testament to the fact.
The aero balance was interesting to observe too, all marquees looked very similar with the exception of the Nissan - they looked the most stable of all through the very tricky/fast sections.
I had an opportunity to look at data (over the weekend) and I could see the fastest sections are where the fastest guys made their time, is 1% stuff!
Even Saturday’s short races held spectators attention, the racing was exciting and as we’ve always known - never underestimate Red Bull Racing Australia. Davey Reynolds’ win in race two was a bit of karma I reckon. He drove superbly and Betty must think she’s kicked a goal from fullback!
Bad luck to Lowndesy, I reckon the tyre could well have been damaged by the savage kerbs and drop offs at the back of them. He’s living proof that racing life isn’t over when you turn 40; anyone who suggests so is a goose. Team owners are always looking for the next special thing, Craig is still special some 20 odd years on!
A great effort by Wilson Security GRM. Scotty is a Champion in waiting I reckon. He possesses amazing flair and a terrific team around him. I’m even getting used to Garry Rogers’ crazy taste in socks – how bizarre!
Doesn't the soft tyre spice up the racing? We’ve known it for a long time haven’t we? Great that we will be seeing more of it next year. My comments about Triple Eight Racing and their drivers are doubled after Sunday’s race. What a team, followed up with a magnificent one-two result! I thought Scotty's pole lap in the Wilson Security Volvo was electrifying. I watched qualy from the last section of the circuit, the commitment and edginess that Scott brings to his driving is super impressive. The first podium for DJR/Team Penske was really pleasing to see – I know they’ve worked really hard for it, congrats to the team. Clearly, Fabian won't have it all his own way next year.
Finally, I have to comment on the technical aspect of the V8 Supercar world, I don't think any one car has an advantage of note - which is what everyone seems to want. Well done to those who build the technical regulations, I think you’ve got it very right.
As for the championship in the final stages, I don't want to jinx anyone but I reckon it's still open – this is the real test over the last two remaining rounds. We have two very different styles of racetrack. Bring it on!