Round two of the Formula 4000 Powered by Holden championship saw us trek to Winton Raceway near Benalla, Victoria, as support to the V8 Supercars. Fresh from our round one victory at Wakefield Park three months ago, it was important for us to consolidate here and pick up valuable points.
Unusually for Winton, the weather was glorious all weekend, something we hadn’t experienced in sodden Goulburn. It gave us a chance to get in some good running on a dry track when first practice commenced on Friday morning.
However, the 30 minute session was punctuated by red flags making it difficult for all drivers to find a consistent rhythm. Ian did have enough time though, to re-acclimatise himself with the Winton layout but also circulated long enough for the car to start jumping out of third gear. An intermittent problem, which seemed to improve once the cars temperatures were up. Following the conclusion of the session much of the talk surrounded some of the cars and their excessive exhaust noise level, which was very strictly policed by the EPA. It would seem bizarre that a race meeting should have a noise restriction imposed on it, but due to the nature of the circuit and its close proximity to some residential properties etc a limit of 95 decibels was set, to which all categories would abide.
Whilst waiting at the end of the pitlane to resume after another red flag 5 minutes into practice two, the stewards decided it was a good time to tell Ian he had exceeded the noise limit, by one decibel, and a black flag would result if he was to take to the track. Their timing to impose the penalty was indeed questionable. After some negotiation the officials ruled a mechanical modification to the car must be introduced to reduce the noise level before the car could be let back out onto the circuit. By the end of Fridays running, 50% of the Formula 4000 and V8 Supercar field fell foul to this ruling.
By Saturday, most teams had adopted their own way of tackling the noise problems and strangely, no more cases were reported for the rest of the weekend. We changed the ride height and installed a new third gear during the morning and this helped Ian push the car to P9 by the end of qualifying, despite a spin at turn one.
Thankfully, after the chaos of a safety car start in Goulburn, race one on Sunday started a little more conventionally. A close battle ensued with Rohan Carrig, before he suffered a problem directly in front of Ian, for which some quick evasive action was required. Ian then lapped consistently throughout the race when it became apparent that our main competitors were either a long way in front, or a long way behind us. An incident on lap 11 involving the race leader Jonny Reid and Ian whilst he was being lapped can only be described as unfortunate. It sent Ian into a half-spin and Jonny out of the race. After recovering, 2nd place in Silver Star and 7th overall at the finish was a reasonable result.
After 40 V8 Supercars had driven 100 laps around the circuit you’d imagine there would be a fair amount of rubbish on it. Indeed, this was the situation that Formula 4000 competitors faced for race two. Off line the track was like a skating rink due to the marbles, couple that with a little oil from some broken V8 engines and track conditions weren’t ideal. Grid position 7 turned into 6 when Mikel Miller stalled on the start line and was relegated to the back of the field, thus reducing the race distance to 12 laps. Although the car was handling far from ideally, Ian was well placed during the race holding a comfortable position, when up ahead Clearihan and Occhipinti came together, promoting Ian to first place silver star! With Carrig 10 seconds adrift, the focus was getting the car reliably to the finish. Another first place Silver Star and sixth overall was a brilliant result for Peters Racing. It extended our championship lead to 40 points and meant Ian got to spray some
more champagne. Lets hope we can spray another bottle come Phillip Island July 6, where the team has traditionally gone very well.
Ian adds “ This was a really lucky weekend, I was off form and we never got the car to a happy configuration so we were well pleased to get the points. Rebecca missed this meeting – the first one in seventeen years of our racing - but it was great to improve my working relationship with our new engineer Sam who took on extra responsibilities. I have high expectations of what we can achieve this year with Sam’s extra input”