Sandown is almost upon us and it’s probably the biggest weekend of my career to date.
That’s a big statement, I know, but I think it’s true … I will be doing double duty for PRA racing my GoGetta Falcon in the Dunlop Series events and co-driving with Cam Waters in the Monster Falcon in the Sandown 500 itself.
We had a mighty Townsville in the GoGetta Falcon …a perfect score of two poles and two wins from two races. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
So the pressure is on at Sandown to maintain that momentum … the GoGetta Falcon has greeted the chequered flag first in the last five races in a row, so obviously our intent is to keep that going.
Sandown is actually my home track, I don’t live that far away, and it’s one I really enjoy, so I’m keen to get into the weekend.
We’re back to the three race format for the Dunlop Series round so with just two sets of new tyres available, it means some tyre management will be needed again. That’s an added complication to the weekend but we have some experience of that now, so I am hopeful we’ll get the strategy right.
Everyone plays the game a little differently so this scenario sometimes means you get drivers coming to the fore in one particular race, but the trick is to maximise the outcome across the three races, not just one of them.
We tested the GoGetta Falcon at Winton about three weeks ago and it went well. We spent the day trying a few things, concentrating on setups that would give us a really good car at Sandown.
At the end of the test day at Winton we were fastest Dunlop Series car and had something that felt pretty good, so the GoGetta Falcon should be on the money at Sandown.
I think the track will suit it too because our engines are strong and you don’t ride the kerbs there as much as at some other tracks, which is probably one area where the car hasn’t always been great.
While chasing the Dunlop Series title is obviously my primary focus this year, I’m also co-driving with Cam Waters in the Monster-PRA Falcon in the Enduro Cup, at Sandown, Bathurst and the Gold Coast.
Although they are both PRA-built Falcons, you’d be surprised how different the GoGetta and Monster Falcons are to drive.
The primary difference is of course that the Monster car uses the ‘twin spring’ suspension setup whereas that’s not allowed in the Dunlop Series, so the GoGetta car doesn’t. The two cars also use a completely different brand of shock absorber, so there are plenty of variables there as well.
Another variable is that I will also be switching between the hard and soft Dunlop tyres across the two cars at different stages of the weekend.
All of that means the two cars behave quite differently under brakes, through and accelerating out of corners, so my biggest challenge at Sandown will be quickly adapting between them as I switch from the Dunlop Series races to the Sandown 500.
I had a really good run in the co-driver session at Queensland Raceway in mid-July, we ended up fastest of all, so that was good and the time I did was pretty competitive given track and tyre conditions.
That gave me confidence that I understand the Monster car and how to get speed out of it, important as it’s likely I won’t get a lot of seat time prior to the race. Cam will focus on setup and qualifying, so I need to be able to step in and go straight away in the race, and be on the pace.
Not sure how hard it’ll be to switch back and forward between the two cars at Sandown but I do have the differences clear in my mind … hopefully that translates on the track!