Getting behind the wheel of a Supercar for a 60-lap stint was like getting back on a bicycle for Cameron McConville, who returns to the category for the first time since 2012 this weekend.
The 2004 Winton race winner joins Nick Percat for this weekend’s Wilson Security Sandown 500 and in unexpected circumstances will race all three Pirtek Enduro Cup events with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport.
McConville has had time off from racing to perform behind the scenes roles with CAMS – including a stint as the Supercars Driving Standards Observer – and his run at Winton yesterday reminded the 42-year old just how unique the Supercars are to drive.
“It does feel like riding a bike, but it’s interesting that I’ve been driving other cars and a V8 Supercar is so specific, so the driving technique and driving skills can’t really transfer from another car,” McConville told supercars.com.
“So whilst you’ve been race sharp, you’re not necessarily sharp to drive that particular car, so that’s why [the test] day was particularly helpful.
“No doubt as Sandown goes on I’ll be back into more of a V8 driving style. They are a very unique car to drive and that’s why the only way to be quick in them is to be driving them – that particular car as much as possible.”
The unique qualifying format at Sandown means McConville will race the other co-drivers on Saturday before the 500km hit-out. There’s an all-in qualifying session to determine starting positions for co-drivers in the co-driver only 60km race. Where they finish, the main drivers start for another 60km race that then determines ARMOR ALL Pole Position.
“I always watch it and have a bit of a laugh … it always looks like everyone trying to get a leg up on his CV!," he said of the qualifying race.
“There’s still clearly some co-drivers who would like to be in full-time – I’m certainly not one of those. I think it provides some extra racing for the crowd, no doubt Nick will qualify up the pointy end and he’ll make me look good.”
With co-drivers traditionally starting the Sandown 500 because of the strategy benefits, it’s good practice on Saturday.
“It’s a slightly different style to how you’re going to race in the enduro because it’s a shorter race. But there’s no doubt it gives you practice with a start, the heat of the battle for the first few laps – you want to get through unscathed obviously so I don’t mind it, it mixes it up, a couple of extra races for the crowd on Saturday is a good thing as well.”
While McConville had the opportunity to run in the half-hour additional drivers’ sessions at Queensland Raceway and Winton earlier this year, a full-day test was important to acclimatise to the car and team.
“[The test] was extremely beneficial, there’s no doubt I would’ve been underdone without it – I did about 50 to 60 laps in the car, which was great.
“We obviously did the usual co-driver driver changes, brake pad changes and they all went really well – in fact I can even feel the body’s a bit sore which is a good sign, it means I did enough laps to dial back in.”