Through four events, I’m satisfied with the job I’ve done so far; five podiums, and in the top 10 for every qualifying session.
If you told me at the start of the year that’s how it would have panned out, I would’ve been very happy.
I’m only 61 points from second in the championship; I feel I’m in contention, and I’ve got a genuine want and belief I can win.
My goal going forward is to keep raising the bar and my expectation of myself.
The event itself was interesting. Saturday was tough for everyone; the weather made for a messy day. It was never a completely dry circuit.
We were quite competitive in the morning practice sessions; we didn’t put new tyres on in the first session, and then we ended up third in Practice 2.
We were right in the hunt, and I was confident we were in the top couple of cars in the dry.
We also qualified okay in the rain, considering it got much wetter in the third segment.
For the start of Race 9, it was nearly dry, and we were on wets. We probably didn’t have the pressures quite right for those opening five laps.
I then got involved in some contact, had the exhaust pipes squashed, and suffered some damage. I brought it home in eighth, but that wasn’t a true representation of our pace.
Like many others, I was hanging out for a dry Sunday, having had a taste of it in practice.
It was only dry during practice, so we didn’t have much time to fine-tune the car for those conditions. Still, I was excited to let loose in the dry, and Anton and I proved our pace.
What you gambled with was what you had, and our car was really close to where we wanted it to be. Locking out the front row for Race 10 was great, both cars were fast, and we brought home some strong results.
I had a gearbox issue on my qualifying lap for Race 11, so it was a shame I couldn’t join Anton on the front row for that one too. But to still qualify fifth was a massive relief, as I was nursing that issue with the gearbox. I got out of jail for that one.
The Race 10 start with Anton was tight, but we had a chat before the race. It was a very open dialogue with the team, and everyone’s working exceptionally well together.
Naturally we both wanted to win the race, but we both had the team first and foremost on our minds. We knew the start was crucial; he who led the first lap would be in a strong position.
I had a good launch, and I thought I’d done enough to sneak in front of Anton. He had a bit of side-draft and the overlap, and it was a tense drag race to Turn 1.
I tried to hang on his outside, he hung it wide at Turn 1, and it was really good racing. If it was someone else, I may have tipped it in a bit deeper!
As the race panned out, I was in a tricky situation trying to keep Shane behind towards the end. I got to Anton on fresher tyres, and there was a period there where I felt I had a bit more speed.
But in the dirty air, it was quite tough; Shane was coming at us on fresher tyres, and by that stage, I’d spent nine laps tucked in behind Anton’s dirty air.
I wouldn’t say I was overly comfortable with Shane behind, but at the time, I didn’t know what troubles he’d face in my dirty air.
A few times, he got to within a car length and he had a few looks. To keep him behind, I had to execute perfectly with the amount of grip I had.
It wasn’t easy; one tiny mistake, and he would’ve pounced on me. It was stressful, but I really wanted to help the team get a one-two. We did that, and it was very pleasing.
The last race was disappointing for Anton, but from my end, I had to grab an opportunity when it presented itself.
I’m always weighing up risk versus reward, like everyone is at the front end of town. It’s pretty intense in that top 10.
It was a very aggressive strategy for Race 11; we pitted on lap 5, because I felt I was being held up by the Triple Eight cars in front.
I felt I had good pace, but pitting early means you may compromise your speed at the end of the race.
We got in front of Jamie and had track position, and I was able to hang on to the end and grab another trophy for our guys.
It was a race in which we were rewarded; we took a punt, and it got us to the podium.
It was nice for us to get the results across the weekend with Ryan at the track. I spent so much time late last year talking to him, trying to get my deal across the line.
It was really special to see him there; he’s put so much of his time and effort into the team, and he’s so incredibly passionate about the team and its history.
It was the first time Anton and I have raced for the team with him in the garage. To have a one-two with him there with us was very fitting.
Now, we’re looking forward to trying to go one better at Winton.