Eighteen-year old debutant Kurt Kostecki has taken plenty away from his run at Townsville, as he prepares to race again in less than a fortnight at Queensland Raceway.
Kostecki stepped in for injured driver Lee Holdsworth and brought his NewGen Supercar with him. He’s scheduled to race two events for Preston Hire Racing while Holdsworth recovers from a fractured pelvis, knee and two ribs.
An accident meant the young gun did not finish Sunday's 70-lap race at the concrete-lined street track on the weekend, but he pushed through the disappointment and is now focused on what he can do to improve.
“I enjoyed it. It was very tough, it was definitely hard to keep my head up high but … a lot of support from the Preston Hire Racing is what kept me going well,” Kostecki told supercars.com.
“We had a really good race at the end there before we crashed out, but hopefully we can learn and take as many positives as we can from this.”
While Kostecki described the hit as “reasonable” there was no chassis damage to the car, which was upgraded from Dunlop Series specifications for the weekend’s racing.
“At turn eight over the kerb the steering arm broke, so I was a passenger from then on.
“I tried to soften it and ended up hitting the tyre barrier with the left side of the car – luckily that soaked up as much of the accident as possible, so when I hit the concrete it wasn’t as bad.”
Kostecki skipped racing in the Dunlop Series over the weekend and was amazed at just how high the level of racing was in the main game.
“It’s hard to gauge how big a step up it is until you do it,” he said.
“Everyone said it’s really hard and I understood, but until you’re out there doing it, it’s a whole different level. So I think it’s taught me a lot now and I can take it back to the Dunlop Series already. Even after one round and I’ll be better off.”
The next event is in less than a fortnight at Queensland Raceway – a circuit Kostecki has never raced on. But he is confident he’ll pick up the simple track quickly and now has experience on the soft tyre and with pit stops.
“I think it’s a good thing there’s not heaps of time [between races] but there is enough time to build on what we’ve got,” he said.
“I learned pit stops, safety cars, race procedures … so I can go into QR without having to learn that stuff. I will be able to focus on myself, focus on the car and focus on gelling with the team, which will help us in the long run.”
Saturday was tough for the rookie, whose foot went numb in the car. He is only used to racing for a handful of laps in the Dunlop Series, not 200km.
“Unfortunately until you start running 70 laps you don’t discover these problems,” he said.
“It’s hard to fix – the next time you’re doing 70 laps is in race conditions…
“We tried to do different things, hopefully we can get it because we made a few little changes for today’s race and it was a lot better, but there’s still a lot more to it.”
Not only was his first run at a street circuit with 200km races, there were only two 40-minute practice sessions on Friday before going into qualifying and racing.
At Queensland Raceway, there are two hour-long practice sessions on Friday and a further 15 minutes Saturday morning before racing.
More time behind the wheel is the key.
“I just need to improve on getting the most out of the car, getting a better feel for everything and I think I showed some good signs through the data,” Kostecki said.
“I just need to work on stringing it all together and getting a lap out of it.”