Richard Muscat Townsville Wrap
Hi All, After the biggest break of the year we headed to Townsville, I always love coming to this place not just because i really enjoy the circuit but its awesome to get away from the freezing Melbourne weather and catch some sun which was pretty cool.
Coming into the round we were very optimistic as two weeks prior we had a very successful test day at winton, we tried many things with rear geometry as well as rear roll centre and rear spring changes which all worked in harmony together which is a testament to the engineers for their ideas and to the mechanics for working very hard to get those changes made on the day. For the weekend we had two Practice session on Friday, one qualifying session on Saturday and a 21 lap race and on Sunday it was another qualifying with another 21 lap race.
Practice for us went pretty smoothly for us, we struggled with rear locking and over rotation on the old tyre so we made a few changes during the session before we put on the new tyres, we had to keep in mind that the track evolution would also come into play as it is a street circuit and it was very dirty and green on the first day of running. on the green tyre we made the car better it wasn't perfect though as the tyre masks some of the cars weaknesses but it was a tidy lap and a strong start to the weekend.
Qualifying: P6 (then relegated to P5)
Qualifying was interrupted by a red flag about halfway into the session but it didn't really affect us much as we weren't on the green tyre at that stage, our plan was to do two flyers in qualifying, my lap again was pretty decent but we ended up P6 a tenth shy of 3rd so it was pretty tight, it was a bit disappointing as we were hoping for at least a top 4 start but we knew we had strong race pace!
Race 1: P3
Race 1 was a 21 lap race, I had a great launch off the start and made up 3 positions to P2 before turn 1. As the race unfolded I was putting more and more pressure on the leader, the car was very strong probably the best it had been for the weekend at that point. on lap 6 the safety car came out, the race restarted on lap 9 and again I put pressure on the leader but slowly because I had been behind him for half the race i started to lose front grip as they were overheating and that dropped me into the clutches off Dumbbell who past me on Lap11, from there on i maintain my gap from behind and comfortably finished P3.
Qualifying 2: P9
In qualifying on Sunday morning we made a few more tweaks with the car this time with front spring to hopefully get some more turn into the car so it didn't "fall off the cliff" like race 1 on Saturday. We had the same strategy as Saturday were I would do two flyers on new tyres at the end of the session, on my first lap it was ok but I made a couple small mistakes in the last sector which hut the lap and on the 2nd lap I locked up at turn 1 so it was immediately game over, I was disappointed to qualify p9 and to not put the lap together but i knew it was a long race, our car was pretty strong on a race run and I love a fight so we were going into the last race of the weekend still trying to be on the podium.
Race 2: P3
Race 2 again I got a pretty good start making up one spot and then into turn 3 I got passed another two cars to P6. I stayed in that spot for 8 laps, i was being held up by the Nissan in front, they were pretty good at coming off the last corner and down the straight so I couldn't really pass going into T1. on lap 10 there was a red flag as several cars ended up in the fence so the race was neuturilized. when we eventually went out on track again we got news it will be a one lap dash, going into the last corner all the cars were nose to tail, I couldn't see a thing but the bonnet and rear wing of the car infant, it was a really jerky restart and when we did get up to full speed everyone jumped on the brakes a bit early , I bumped the car in front which then hit a couple other cars, I inherited P3 and the race finished at the end of the lap. It was a bit disappointing to make contact with other cars as I do race as hard as anyone out there but I don't like to make nose to tail contact,
Overall it was a very positive and confidence building weekend for the whole team, we were one of the quickest cars, we had a great podium to finish P2 for the round and were are currently 6th in the championship only 90 points off 4th, and after being 25th after round 1 when we had the electrical issue I am a bit surprised we are where we are. Im very lucky to have a great team behind me which also includes yourself, from engineers to mechanics to fabricators to sponsors without this team I am very fortunate to have, absolutely none of this is possible, the next time I'm in a Supercar I will be driving James Moffat's #34 car at Queensland Raceway for another co driver session and my second hit out in the big league. After finishing P3 in a drenched winton session Im looking forward to getting there to further develop my driving hopefully in the dry this time with a twin spring and super soft tyre as the car is quite a bit different to the car I drive in Super2.