A new direction for Super Black out West
We have all been looking forward to getting to the West for the Perth SuperSprint. Barbagallo is a track that Chris has enjoyed success at competing in the V8 Ute Racing Series and more recently in the Dunlop Series. The coarse and sandy low grip and high tyre degradation circuit has a history of creating exciting racing.
Its fair to say that this circuit is hard on everything. Its a very short only 2.42km with long loaded corners with a very coarse surface. This means tyre degradation is extremely high. Each car is allocated six sets of soft tyres, with one of them to be returned to Dunlop before the 15 minutes practice session on Saturday. The Sunday 200km race which involves much more complicated strategies is all about is tyre life, not fuel usage.
Overall we are happy with the teams results from the weekend and we feel we have turned a corner after a rough start to the beginning of the year. We are also pleased to say that we are very close to finalising our Co-driver for the endures and look to announce this later this month.
Chris Pithers Race view of the weekend:
After a signing session in the city we headed to Barbagallo for the team track walk. As a group including all the PRA drivers and engineers we walk the track chatting about different driving lines and techniques as well as examining the surface and checking for any repairs that may affect the grip levels.
Friday: Two one-hour practice sessions gave us the opportunity to work through our testing plan, tune the balance of the car and also get an idea of the degradation we can expect per lap in the races. The Super Black Racing crew did an awesome job in preparation for the event and the Ice Break FGX felt in the window as it rolled out of the truck. I was happy to sit P7 after practice two knowing that some drivers had run green tyres while we were on used. At this point I felt we were in good shape for the weekend ahead.
Saturday: The weather couldn’t decide what it wanted to do. The track conditions were changing so quickly that when we rolled out for qualifying it was obvious we needed to bank a lap out the gate before the rain hit again. As anticipated after completing one lap the rain started to fall and the red flag was waved for a car stuck in the sand trap at turn one. Sitting 7th after my lap with the rain falling harder I knew our first top ten qualifying result was on the cards. Half the field rolled out on wet tyres but our position was safe. Some people suggested it was lucky I was in the top ten but we had the speed to be there regardless, next looking forward to the 50 lap race ahead.
There came a down pour as pit exit opened for the formation lap, which meant a mad rush to bolt wet tyres on before venturing onto the track and around to grip up. I didn’t mind some rain as I felt comfortable in the car throughout free practice when it was wet. I got through lap one cleanly and settled into a groove as the track was drying. It wasn’t long till we pitted for slicks. The car felt good and I pressed on and tried my best to look after the tyres. We started to move forward as drivers were struggling for grip and crossed the line for my first top ten result in 8th place. I was rapt with the result but wanted to focus on Sundays longer race and ensure we could back up the result.
Sunday: The sun was shining as we hit the track for the 20minute qualifying session. I was looking forward to bolting some new boots on seeing what we could do. The car felt really good on the first new tyre run and I knew I could find some more time. I pushed hard on my second set and was pleased when I crossed the start/finish line to see my time. I knew it was reasonable but I was pleasantly surprised when my Engineer Dilan got on the radio and told me we were fastest. A few cars still had their final run to do and I got bumped back to 4th. To be .10 off pole was a huge confidence booster and such a good feeling to be up there through genuine speed around the best in the business.
The start was a ripper and I pulled to the inside on the run to turn one in third place. The car was a jet and I pushed on. Being an 83 lap race I knew I needed to learn how to manage the tyres over my first few stints so I could maximise the run home. The pace was really strong early in the race but dropped off in the last stint after getting caught behind slower cars that were struggling for grip. Finishing in 14th place was solid but disappointing after we were looking strong for another top ten result.
Conclusion: I knew as a team we were capable of running in the top ten so I’m absolutely pumped to now have one under our belt. I can’t thank Tony and Emily Lentino enough for the opportunity, my Super Black Racing crew for their constant hard work behind the scenes as well as my partners Ice Break, Only Domains, SLW Transport, MightyMite, Auto Racing Tours, Nwrap Graphics.
Now I bank that one in the memory, build from it and focus on our next event at Winton.
Thanks to everyone for your support.