Competing in Australia's fastest racing series - Formula 4000

 
Holden Australian Drivers Championship Race 1 Wakefield Park NSW 20-23rd Feb 2003
This was the very first F4000 race and the start of a new season in Australia's top series. We are looking forward to taking advantage of our new Cantech developed engine.
Free Practice - Wednesday
We had a full day of doing the installation laps on our new engine and then doing a full check of it to make sure it was all well. This takes quite a few hours. The track was really green, so we didn't do any setup work as it would obviously be very different by the time a few cars did miles on it on Friday. The worst thing is that the track is wildly bumpy, so we went to our high ground clearance setup but weren't sure if it would be enough.
Practice 1 - Friday
You know rain, of course, you know heavy rain too no doubt. Well this was neither of those. This was high tide without the ocean. Only a few cars ventured out, we were one of those. It seemed like a great opportunity to get a bead on where the water sat on the track if it rained later in the weekend and we could try out our "monsoon" wet setting. The answer to those questions is that the water sat everywhere and our monsoon setting doesn't work if the car doesn't get through the standing water. Also we reconfirmed the age-old theory that electronics and water don't mix.
Practice 2 - Friday
By the afternoon there was an obvious change in the weather. It was worse. We stayed in our garage and pretended we had urgent work to do rather than go out!! The teams that did venture out came back quick smart.
Qualifying - Saturday
Dry weather, damp track, we qualified 6th but I'm not very comfortable on the bumps. We obviously had some serious changes to make to the car to make it driveable enough for the Sunday races. We were hitting the track very hard in spots and the car wasn't soft enough in the slow corners. The session was peppered with red flags so it was hard to get a good run going.
Race 1 - Sunday
On the warm-up I new we had a problem. I'd obviously softened the car too much without giving it enough ride height at the front. This was going to be unpleasant and damaging on the car. Because the track was damp, they put us out on the warm-up behind the safety car. While we were abut 2/3rds of the way around the track the lights went out on the safety car so I assumed we were going to a rolling start. Rebecca confirmed this on the radio after checking with an official, so I closed up tight behind the leaders. Some guys missed the start, some lagged back a long way and some tried to stop on the grid. Chaos ensued. We managed to avoid passing (or hitting) anyone before the start-line and got away with a good break on the cars behind. This gave me the option of taking it easy while we tried to get some temperature (and therefore pressure) in the tyres to improve the ground clearance problem and hopefully avoid beating the hell out of the undertray. After three or four laps we settled in and I managed to find a slower line that made us a little slower but saved the car. We had decided before the race that a few of the new guys might not finish and it turned out that we cruised home to 4th place and first in Silver Star. This was our best ever result so things were looking OK. There was very little to fix on the car and we increased ground clearance for the afternoon race.
Race 2 - Sunday When the clutch doesn't work as you leave the pits you know it isn't going well. So much for our good result in the morning! I was going to have to either pump some life into it on the parade lap or start the race with the engine off and try to get it started in gearů not nice. I managed to pump it up enough so I tried to do a normal start. Unfortunately the effort of trying to get going from the form up area had damaged the first/reverse dog ring and the car jumped straight out of first as the lights went out. I grabbed second and crawled away but by this time the field was streaming past. So instead of being fourth, I was last! Disappointment is an integral part of this game. I passed a couple of cars in the first few laps and caught up to Rohan Carrig who was having some troubles of his own. I trailed him for a few laps sizing up the right place to pass. I did it mid straight but left too much room in the braking area and he went past again. Next time I didn't make the same mistake and we cruised home. Luckily some of the other Silver Star competitors had their own adventures so we came home 6th and first in the Silver Star.
Conclusion

40 Silver Star points is a great haul and gives us a fine start towards reclaiming the Silver Star title. We expect more competitors to participate in the second round so we will need to work hard to capitalise on our lead. We are also fourth in the Gold Start at the moment too.

Next race Winton

Ian Peters.

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