Richard Muscat’s Clipsal 500 Weekend
What a massive weekend it was a very tight and dangerous track which caught a lot of people out,
It was my first time at Adelaide Parklands Circuit so it was exciting and nerve racking at the same time to hit the streets in one of the most competitive categories in Australia.
Practice was all about staying out on track and doing the most miles we could do in the session to learn the characteristics of the track and learn what kerbs we could and couldn't run. I was learning every lap and the car felt very strong from the start of Practice 1 so I was quite confident heading into qualifying.
I worked with my Engineer a lot in between the two practice sessions to get the maximum out of me for the little time we had on track for practice.
Qualifying was very difficult because we only got 3 flying laps and 2 of those laps I was blocked quite badly by slower traffic and then the session got red flagged due to a car crashing heavily into the wall at turn 8, I had a very good car under me and I knew I could go a lot quicker but Im sure a lot of other drivers got caught out just as I did so we managed to qualify P6 which put us on the 3rd row of the grid for race 1.
Race 1 was pretty good, I got a reasonable start and came out of the 2nd corner in 5th place, that's were I stayed for the remainder of the race, I had a couple of looks at Craig Baird who was in fourth and attacking Nick Mcbride in 3rd but it was just too hard and risky to try and make a move so I had to play smart and keep collecting points.
In race 2 I had a mega start and attacked McBride for fourth going into turn 1 he blocked me aggressively in which I had to get off the throttle and I lost a position going into the first corner, so I was 6th after the first lap. I was hot on the tail of the car in front and I made a clean move into turn 9 a lap later, I then put my head down to chase down Mcbride and Russell in P3 and P4 respectively. I caught them but just couldn't do anything with it, I had one good look at David Russell but I just wasn't close enough to come through the inside so like the first race I finished in P5.
Race 3 was very tough I got an even start at the line with the car next to me on the inside who had the preferred line into turn 1 so I had to give up the spot, I struggled with low tyre pressure for the first 6 laps, the feel of the car wasn't great with not much lateral grip but from lap 7 onwards I had a rocket ship, the car felt great and I began to put the pressure on Cameron Mcconville. we had a great battle for 6 laps but he just put the car in the right spots whenever I had a run on him so again it made it nearly impossible to pass without contact or risk.
If you told me I was going to finish 5th overall before the weekend I would have taken it, it was my first time at Clipsal racing against other drivers who have been here many times so I was already on the back foot, plus its one of the hardest tracks to fully commit to without going over the limit and slapping a wall. I was learning every lap and will continue to learn and go faster every time I get in the car, Albert Park is another track I haven't been to before and it is the next track we head to for Round 2 which is only a week and a half away so I am looking forward to learning another great circuit and continuing to improve my driving, the goal for Albert Park will be to finish in the top 5 yet again with only one practice session its going to be very tough but I am confident in my team, my car and myself we can get the job done and move higher up in the championship come the end of the year.
Once again without the loyal support of my sponsors I would not be here striving to achieve my goals and dreams so I thank you once again for your ongoing support and I will be trying my best in every possible way as always!!