When it comes to the Sandown 500, or perhaps we should call it the Sandown 388, we had an extremely positive weekend…until the Sunday that is!
On Saturday, we took out pole position and then we won a race, which was great news and very exciting for the team and for Luke Youlden (co-driver) and I. The problem with that was, that neither of those results actually technically count, due to the qualifying format for the event.
If you missed it, essentially how it works is a 20-minute qualifying session sets the grid for a 20-lap qualifying race for the co-drivers, the results of which set the grid for a 20-lap qualifying race for the main drivers. It is the results of that second qualifying race that sets the starting order for Sunday’s 500.
After my qualifying race we started third for the big one, and while I was of course happy to start third in one of the biggest races of the year, it did feel a bit strange knowing we had got pole and a race win earlier in the day.
When it came to my qualifying race, I had a really bad start and you know, we had three qualifying sessions and two of them don’t get awarded. It does suck a bit to get my first pole for the team with its current package and for Luke to get the team’s first win in a Holden and for there to be no real recognition of that from the championship.
I guess it is no surprise given the above that I would like to see the format shaken up a bit – perhaps we could have the two 20-lap races have some championship points attached, or maybe we could run the 20-minute qualifying and then have the co-drivers do a Top Ten Shootout – how nuts would that be!
Anyhow, all of that aside, what a weekend it was. A great day on Saturday. It is safe to say Sunday was challenging – we started third, and after one lap the race was suspended for over an hour after the turn six corner had to be repaired again following a crash for Taz Douglas. Thankfully he was okay, but it took a long time for that barrier to be fixed and it was unfortunate that this was the second year in a row this kind of thing had seen the race suspended for a big chunk of time and – with the time certain factor thrown in – shortened from the ‘500’ to the ‘388’. That is truly something none of us wants to see – we want to race the full distance, and the fans want to watch us do that, so it was disappointing for sure. Punctures for both Luke and I and our Erebus sister car of Wood and Pither threw further spanners in the works, we had missed the set-up a bit which saw us chew the tyres up and the car was a handful to drive.
At the same time, I am really very proud of my team and of Luke. The retro feel to this round was amazing and I really think the car just looked awesome and until Sunday’s race, it was brilliant and I was really pleased with what we could do with it.
As they say, it is eyes forward for Bathurst now!
See you at the track,