Driver’s Eye View: Darwin

Sorry seems to be the hardest word in V8 Supercars, but plenty of drivers had to say it after three frenetic races at Hidden Valley. Our racecraft expert Tony D’Alberto takes a look through all the thrills and spills from the Top End.

Driver’s Eye View: Darwin
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
Fabian Coulthard, Brad Jones Racing Holden
Shane van Gisbergen, Tekno Autosports Holden
Nick Percat, Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Holden
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
David Reynolds, Rod Nash Racing Ford
Race start
Shane van Gisbergen, Tekno Autosports Holden
Champagne for all
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Rick Kelly, Nissan Motorsports
Shane van Gisbergen, Tekno Autosports Holden

Maybe it was all that grip on offer from the new surface. Maybe it was five weeks worth of pent up aggression after another long break in the schedule. For whatever reason, it was a wild weekend at Hidden Valley.

Let’s start with the James Courtney/Shane van Gisbergen clash that happened on the Saturday.

I don’t think for a second that James knew Shane was there. We spoke about James’ mistake at Winton, where he took out his team-mate Garth Tander, but this was a completely different scenario.

There was obviously a bit of confusion at the restart, and James seemed to be a little bit baulked. He looked as if he was trying to have a go at Rick Kelly in front of him, not knowing that Shane was there.

As I’ve said before, it’s very difficult to see what’s around you when you’re strapped into a V8 Supercar. He would have known Shane was there somewhere, but he obviously thought that he’d cleared him.

When the opportunity to have a go at Rick came up, James went for it – and that’s when he hit Shane. Shane was definitely the innocent bystander in that situation, as was Garth... again.

For a second round in a row, it would have been an awkward debrief for the HRT boys.

Sorry seems to be hardest word

It’s always a bit awkward when you have to apologise to another driver after making a mistake, but I can tell you from experience it is much better to go and have a chat to them than just ignore it.

Even if it results in a bit of a blue at the time, it’s good to acknowledge that something has gone on. If you leave it and don’t say anything, it builds up. It goes on from round, to round, to round.

If you just apologise and say “I out-braked myself” or whatever, people understand that. They’re all on the limit as well, and it’s so easy to make little errors. We’ve all done it before.

But if you say nothing, it makes it worse. You have to man up, head down to the garage and admit you’ve made a bit of a blunder, and move on.

Percat’s outburst

Nick Percat’s TV outburst after getting caught up in the crash between Andre Heimgartner, Will Davison, and Jamie Whincup was a good one, I’ll say that much!

He was clearly very emotional, and he admitted afterwards that he said things he probably shouldn’t have.

But you have to remember that Nick is investing a lot of time into trying to help his relatively small LD Motorsport crew find its way.

And when you have an incident like that, and tear half the car off, it means that small group of mechanics needs to work all night to fix that, rather than concentrate their efforts on making the car faster for Nick.

It’s like a backwards step, which is why Nick would have fired up so easily.

But hey, he bounced back on Sunday and had a ripper race. That shows the true character of Nick, and also the team of guys he has working around him.

Rick gets it wrong

At the start of Sunday’s second race, pole-sitter Rick Kelly clearly out-braked himself. No doubt about that.

It was clumsy, and he would have been shattered about it. But it’s also a very easy mistake to make.

What you have to appreciate is how difficult it is to brake into turn one after a standing start. Picking your braking point when you’re at the front is not easy. When you’re in the mid-field, you use the brake lights from the guys in front to help pick a braking point, but at the front you have no reference.

Your braking marker is on the outside of the circuit, and you’re not going as fast as you would be on a flying lap, so you’re basically guessing as to where to hit the pedal.

Starting from pole is a skill in itself, and guys like Jamie Whincup who start at the front all the time are probably a bit more conditioned to it. They probably have a system they work to, and have it all figured out prior to the start.

But in Rick’s case, with a new surface, Fabian Coulthard on his outside, and a lot of pressure to get a result, I can appreciate how easily a mistake like that could happen.

shares
comments
Tourism minister says Gold Coast V8 event “at risk”
Previous article

Tourism minister says Gold Coast V8 event “at risk”

Next article

Lowndes: 100th win a “relief”

Lowndes: 100th win a “relief”
Load comments
Why Courtney and Tickford are a dream match Prime

Why Courtney and Tickford are a dream match

James Courtney has been around the block in his motorsport career it's fair to say. After a single-seater career cut short, he's won everything there is to win in Supercars. Following a rocky ride recently in the Australian category, he's found a happy hunting ground with Tickford Racing.

Supercars
Oct 21, 2021
How taming his temper shaped Supercars' slow-burn star Prime

How taming his temper shaped Supercars' slow-burn star

His decision to leave Brad Jones Racing was the biggest shock of the Australian Supercars silly season so far. But for Nick Percat, it comes as the culmination of a personal journey that has made him into one of the most rounded drivers in the series, now in search of a seat that can make him a champion

Supercars
Sep 17, 2021
Why replacing Supercars' GOAT with a teenager is worth the risk for T8 Prime

Why replacing Supercars' GOAT with a teenager is worth the risk for T8

On the face of it, picking an 18-year-old rookie to replace arguably the greatest Supercars driver of all time is a risky move. But as Jamie Whincup takes up a team principal role and hands his car to Broc Feeney, it's one that he is confident will be rewarded in the fullness of time - time which wasn't afforded to Whincup in his early days

Supercars
Sep 1, 2021
How Randle went from fighting cancer to battling for Supercars contention Prime

How Randle went from fighting cancer to battling for Supercars contention

After his fledgling career was paused by a battle with testicular cancer, Thomas Randle then had to wrestle with finding a drive in Supercars after he got the all-clear. It's been a long road for the Melbourne native but, after two lengthy battles, he's finally got a full-time drive to look forward to

Supercars
Jun 29, 2021
How crisis talks over Supercars’ Gen3 future could leave it without a paddle Prime

How crisis talks over Supercars’ Gen3 future could leave it without a paddle

With Supercars’ Gen3 era on the horizon, a shift is set to take place – in more ways than one – but, as has become clear in recent weeks, the plan to bin the stick and use paddles with electronic assisted shift has been met with fierce opposition

Supercars
May 24, 2021
Can DJR still be a Supercars powerhouse after Penske? Prime

Can DJR still be a Supercars powerhouse after Penske?

Roger Penske's whirlwind Australian Supercars sojourn is over. After six seasons, three drivers' titles, three teams' championships and a Bathurst 1000 crown, The Captain has sold his controlling stake in Dick Johnson Racing back to the squad and walked away from the category.

Supercars
Feb 26, 2021
Can Whincup be Triple Eight's ruthless leader? Prime

Can Whincup be Triple Eight's ruthless leader?

Supercars' most successful team of the past 15 years is set for a radical shakeup next year when Jamie Whincup retires from driving and takes over the reins at Triple Eight. But does he have what it takes to be the new Roland Dane?

Supercars
Feb 8, 2021
How a lifetime Supercars deal broke down in one year Prime

How a lifetime Supercars deal broke down in one year

David Reynolds inked what was effectively a lifetime deal with Erebus in 2019 – only to walk out a year later. What went wrong?

Supercars
Dec 18, 2020