Episode 8

“Food For Thought”

Racing drivers are athletes, meaning they have to eat like athletes. I definitely don’t, so how do I need to change?

I like food. A lot. The issue is I like (and therefore eat) the wrong food. A lot.

Whilst I’m fortunate that, due to my ectomorphic body type (meaning whilst it’s really hard for me to build muscle, it’s also difficult for me to gain weight), I don’t outwardly show the effects of my poor diet, I do think that making a few adaptations here and there could significantly affect my performance behind the wheel for the better. So that’s what I’m going to do. After all, one of the ideas behind Living The Racing Grind is to, well, live the racing grind…

Unfortunately, unlike full-time top-level drivers, I don’t have access to a qualified nutritionist to constantly monitor my sustenance intake, and measuring out exact portions gram-by-gram can be a little complex and over-complicated. As a result, this isn’t going to be carried out with scientific levels of precision, I am purely trying to find out if the theory is sound or not. Starting today, that’s what I’ll by trying to do.

Luckily for me, there are actually plenty of articles already on the internet that follow the nutritional habits of Formula One drivers, meaning there are plenty of places I can search for inspiration. What’s even better is that, for the most part, none of the sources seem to conflict in their messages either. What I think I have learnt from studying a selection of these is as follows:

It seems to me that breakfast is in fact just a normal breakfast. Thinking about it this shouldn’t be that surprising, really. After all, breakfast is supposed to fuel your body for the day ahead, and racing drivers certainly need fuelling! Just like a standard breakfast, slow-release carbohydrates seem to be best. Porridge seems to be a go-to meal due to the high carbohydrate content, and oats also contain a high amount of fibre, which helps to control blood-sugar levels.

To supplement this, vitamins and minerals are ingested from fruit and raw vegetables, and finally a multivitamin. These help cognitive performance, which is probably quite helpful when piloting a racecar round a track. To wash this all down, water seems to be the best bet, alongside a glass of fruit juice or a cup of coffee. Caffeine intake does need to be monitored, however, as it is classed as a performance-enhancing drug over certain tolerances.

From a personal point of view, this doesn’t sound massively different to my current diet of a bowl of wheat cereal. Similarities in carbohydrate and fibre content are present, so the only change to make in my diet would be to add an orange or some raw carrot to my breakfast.

For lunch, this may create quite a large change to my diet. Going are my supermarket meal deals and local bakery sausage rolls, coming is real, unprocessed food in place. A favourite for drivers seems to be grilled or stir-fried chicken, for it’s high in protein and low in fat content. This is generally paired with rice or potatoes to replenish those slow-release sugars that have been used since breakfast, and vegetables for the enclosed nutrients.

Whilst this certainly isn’t appealing to me as the most exciting diet in the world, it is worth remembering that, in elite level sport, nutrition is purely seen as fuel for the athlete, much the same as petrol for the car, and nothing more. This is one of the reasons drivers anticipate the off-season so much, as they are allowed to enjoy their cuisine for a few months. For my situation sticking by the rules is not quite so vital, meaning the odd restaurant meal with friends or a Sunday roast with family isn’t going to completely overturn all the good progress up to that point.

When it comes to dinner (or tea, supper or whatever else you choose to name it), the main food group shifts from carbohydrate for energy, to protein for muscle replenishment. The focal point of the dish becomes meat or fish, with pasta or potato to accompany. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of fish, however that may have to change in order to avoid eating chicken twice a day!

Finally, snacks. Whilst snacks aren’t a good thing to be consuming regularly, sometimes they’re necessary. Surprisingly, ham and cheese toasties are a good snack, as they contain both protein and carbohydrate. Another left-field choice is dark chocolate. 85% cocoa dark chocolate is high in iron, which helps brain function, and anti-oxidants too. For myself, I’ll probably add a dessert into the diet so I can at least enjoy some part of my meal, however none of the meal plans I researched made any mention of one, meaning I’ve got free reign to either stay sensible or just blatantly cheat.

But there it is, the second adaptation I’ll undertake in order to closer align my life to that of a professional racing driver. There will be a follow-up episode in a few weeks to document whether I have felt any significant changes take place in retrospect of both the fitness work and the meal plan. In the meantime, please follow me on Instagram as there should be some semi-regular updates posted on there. Finally, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to check back every Wednesday for the latest in my #RacingGrind!

***

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like to let me know I’ve done a good job. It’ll certainly motivate me to keep writing if I know people are interested! If you really liked it, maybe you could consider giving me a follow too, by sticking your email in the box below! Finally, if you’ve got any tips for me about racing, writing or anything else in life for that matter, then post a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find me and follow me on Instagram and Twitter (click the icons below)! You don’t have to but it would be nice.

Race Watch 4

Rally Sweden 2020

We left Monte Carlo with more questions than answers, so heading into Sweden can Neuville make it two from two? Will Evans once more show promise? How will Tanak fare after his crash?

SO, WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED AND WHAT DID I THINK OF IT?
MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THESE TOPICS?
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND LET’S GET A DISCUSSION GOING!

Welcome to Race Watch, a supplementary feature running alongside my blog designed for me to project any opinions that may have arisen from the motorsport events I viewed over the previous weekend.

***

After the hiatus of last week, #RaceWatch returns with round 2 of the World Rally Championship. The setting was Sweden (with a fair amount of help from neighbouring Norway) and the blanket of puffy white snow the drivers would have to dig their studded tyres into.

Or at least that was the plan. Unseasonably warm weather, due to a combination of factors and not just global warming, had seen large portions of the idyllic, snowy conditions fans are accustomed to transformed into gritty, muddy gravel synonymous with Wales rather than Scandinavia.

This posed a rather serious issue for the event organisers, as the regulations surrounding the event stipulated that solely studded tyres were permitted, and these would rip up any roads that weren’t protected by layers of snow or ice. As a result, the rally was cut considerably short, with just nine stages as opposed to the originally planned 18. Of the 9 that went ahead, the two Torsby Sprint stages were just a fraction of their original lengths, and the Likenas stage on Sunday was run only once rather than twice as planned.

This shortened schedule meant the crews had to push at every moment, taking harsher cuts and faster slides through each corner to maximise the time gains. On some of the fastest roads in WRC, the pace was relentless.

That relentless pace was coming from the wheel-tracks of Elfyn Evans. Elfyn continued the promising pace shown at Monte Carlo by topping the times after the first stage, beating reigning world champion Ott Tanak by 1.1s. Finnish teen sensation Kalle Rovanpera was third, a further 0.9s behind, reminding everyone of the undoubted talent he has, and will only continue to portray as he gets more and more familiar with his new machine.

Monte Carlo winner, and therefore championship leader, Thierry Neuville finished sixth, 4.4 seconds back and 1.5s behind the third Toyota of Seb Ogier in fourth.

The struggle of Neuville continued to be a consistent theme during Friday’s running, as the challenge of being first on the road resulted in finishing positions of just 7th, 8th and 7th in the day’s other stages.

Evans and Tanak certainly were not struggling, however, trading stage victories throughout the day’s proceedings. Ott won stage 2 by 0.9s over Evans, cutting the Welshman’s overall lead to just 0.2 seconds, before it was stretched out again by Evans’ second stage win. Tanak’s time loss on the third stage was such that Rovanpera, who seemed to be clearly the next best driver in the field, jumped into second in the overall classification.

This didn’t last long, though. The final stage of the day saw Ott take his second stage of the rally, whilst Rovanpera’s stall in the first corner dropped him back behind the Estonian. By this point, the lead Evans took into the weekend was 8.5 seconds. Comfortable, although certainly not insurmountable.

Comfortable as it may have been, clearly it wasn’t comfortable enough for Elfyn, as he compounded his advantage over the rest of the field in each of the 4 stages on Saturday. His untouchable nature lead to three of the four stage victories, and his lead at the end of the day was more than double the one he started with. 17.2 seconds and just the solitary Power Stage on day 3 ensured that, barring any major mishaps occurring, Evans had one hand on the Rally Sweden trophy.

Behind him, Tanak had a similar buffer to third, but the battle for that final podium place was heating up. Following third-place finishes on the day’s first two stages, Ogier had climbed above his young Toyota teammate, but the advantage flowed back and forth during the remainder of Saturday’s running. Rovanpera was second in stage 7 and regained his podium place, before the six-time world champion snatched it back on the day’s final course. All this meant just half a second separated the two drivers at opposite ends of their careers.

The only competitor other than Evans and his Yaris to win a stage on day 2 was the championship leader, Neuville. Following another disappointing day for the Hyundai racer he finally found some pace on the last stage, eclipsing Ogier’s time by just 0.3s. However, I’m sure this would have been nothing more than a slight consolation for the Belgian, who languished sixth in the overall classification, behind the three Toyota’s, Tanak and the Ford Fiesta of Esapekka Lappi.

The final day saw the solitary completion of the Power Stage, where extra championship points are up for grabs for the fastest 5 finishers. And with a point to prove and a podium place to fight for, it was Rovanpera who took the spoils, completing the course 3.7s quicker than Neuville, who was in desperate need of the bonus points to consolidate his position in the championship. Third was Ogier, fourth was Tanak and Lappi took the one point available for finishing fifth in the stage.

The rally winner completed the stage in the sixth best time. After cruising through the stage, ensuring nothing went wrong, Elfyn Evans completed the rally 12.7s faster than Tanak, claiming just his second WRC win. For his co-driver Scott Martin, it was a maiden victory, and one that surely cements their place in the championship title fight. After their third place in Monte, supplemented by 2 Power Stage points in that rally, the pairing move onto 42 championship points.

They only lead the championship by countback, however. Thierry Neuville’s 4 Power Stage points also moved him onto 42 championship points, but his second-best finish of 6th here is not as good as Evans’ 3rd in Monaco, placing him second in the championship. Ogier and Rovanpera make it three Toyota’s in the top 4, whilst Tanak’s title defence has finally made a start, as he is now fifth after two events. Moving into Mexico next month brings us to what is the first official gravel rally of the season, even if Sweden this weekend was pretty gritty. Mexico last year brought Ogier’s second win from three events, yet he has only been victorious once in 12 since. Can he end his barren run, or can Evans build on a confidence-boosting first two rallies? Maybe Tanak will bring home his first Hyundai win? Let me know your predictions in the comments below!

Episode 7

“Keeping A Lid On Things”

Every racer has a sense of individuality, both in driving and in presence. How, though, will I portray mine?

This week, with the lack of #RaceWatch to devote my time and (albeit limited) creative resources to, I thought I’d go all out for this episode instead. So, I got thinking. If I was to ask what the easiest method to identify a driver during a race was, there would be two answers.

Naturally, the first response would be the number on the car. Every car has a unique number, with their driver(s) associated with it. However, this could vary from season to season, or championship to championship, meaning just a number is not truly individual.

Moving on to the second answer then: Their helmet. The vast majority of drivers have their own personal colours adorning their skull, and it is a subject of pride for almost all. Speak to any driver about their choice of design and there’ll be a scintillating story about every colour, shape, image that comprises their personal livery. No two helmet designs are the same, and with that in mind I thought I’d have a crack at it.

My first helmet design concept

 ‘Considering that you just spoke at length about stories surrounding cranium colours, what, then, is the story behind this arrangement?’

I’m glad you asked! I should, however, deposit a disclaimer before we proceed. As you can see, I’m no graphic designer, and this is most certainly a work in progress. Whilst I am extremely pleased with the outcome of my weekend’s work, there are a couple of aspects that could change before a final product is ever created. There is also the consideration of which specific helmet would receive the honour of displaying such artwork, but that is another episode in itself.

Another point of note is that, when researching helmet liveries in preparation for this task, I noticed a few common traits within the majority of designs. For example, most paint jobs are bold yet fairly simple at their core. As a result, I have endeavoured to carry this trait onto my own design, by using strong blocks of colour that are still distinctive and distinguishable at a distance, rather than just at a couple of feet.

Anyway, the ideology behind my crown-cover’s pattern is as follows, starting with the obvious. The colour scheme for this whole #RacingGrind brand is black, grey and orange, therefore it was a pretty simple choice for my lid’s dominant colours to match. That is why large portions of the helmet are black and grey, with mostly orange accents providing boundaries. After all, what’s the point in even having a brand if you aren’t publicising it to within an inch of its life?

The Racing Man dominates the plan view of the helmet

Continuing this theme, I felt it was vital to incorporate aspects of the #RacingGrind logo into the headpiece. As such, the racing-man has pride of place on top, and a chevron, as featured at the base of the logo, delivers a bold shape across the chin and up onto the cheek area. Personally, I especially like the outcome of the chevron design as I feel it provides a sense of purpose and speed to the overall image.

Behold: a name that will almost certainly not go down in racing’s history books

Other advantages of the chevron swooping back over the cheeks are that, firstly, it perfectly advised of the steepness in which to have the point at the rear of the helmet, and secondly it produced the ideal guideline for my name to be placed. When it came to the name, I immediately knew that I wanted to emulate the font used for my logo. I also felt that, due to having two short names, the most aesthetically pleasing layout was by utilising my full title. Naturally, having a name on the helmet will help spectators identify me on track whilst simultaneously reminding them of who I am each time they see an image of me, which in terms of marketing can only be a good thing.

The chevron shape also found its way from the logo onto the lid

Moving up to the visor strip, and this is where the first potential amendment may occur. Personally, I am a big fan of having my hashtag pride of place in the centre of the frontal area, however visor strips are also prime spots for sponsor stickers to be placed, and in that situation, sponsors are always going to take precedence. For now, though, I have no sponsors, and that means it’s the perfect spot for some self-promotion!

Speaking of sponsors, I have decided to go for the classic white halo around the forehead area. The neutral white gives a perfect base for sponsor logos to be placed without clashing with the primary style, and the wrap-around nature means that sponsor logos will be visible no matter what angle the helmet is being viewed from.

The orientation of helmet that, hopefully, all of my competitors get used to

Finally, we move to the rear of the helmet. In all honesty this is my least favourite portion of the livery, meaning it’s most likely to get a design change. What I want this area to symbolise is me as a human, something personal. This is the reasoning behind the neon green, as it is a colour I love and one that is likely to remain constant in spite of potential changes, however I’m not sure the triangular motif screams me. I would quite like to have my initials in this potential motif, along with my personal favourite number 99 (which, in an ideal world, would be my race number), I’m just not convinced by the layout.

Well, there you have it. My initial #RacingGrind helmet design. Whilst this took an absolute age to create, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Given the feeling of achievement gained from it, there may be more concepts on their way, but don’t hold out for them! What do you think though? Which bits do you like and which bits would you change? Let me know in the comments section below and I’ll try my hardest to reply to them!

***

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like to let me know I’ve done a good job. It’ll certainly motivate me to keep writing if I know people are interested! If you really liked it, maybe you could consider giving me a follow too, by sticking your email in the box below! Finally, if you’ve got any tips for me about racing, writing or anything else in life for that matter, then post a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find me and follow me on Instagram and Twitter (click the icons below)! You don’t have to but it would be nice.

Race Watch 3

Haas VF-20 Livery Reveal

In the absence of high-profile, four-wheeled motorsport this weekend, #RaceWatch is taking a break.

In the meantime, enjoy some pictures of the first 2020 formula one livery reveal, courtesy of Haas f1
It’s a return to the classic black, white and red for Haas this year…
…leaving behind the black and gold, classic Lotus-esque skin synonymous with the ultimately dramatic Rich Energy sponsorship
#RaceWatch will return next week reviewing a bumper motorsport schedule, featuring both WRC and Formula E, alongside a week of F1 car launches!

Episode 6

“Where Am I Racing?”

With the season fast approaching, now seems the perfect time to discuss where I’ll be racing.

Finally, we have survived January. By the weekend, we will be 10% of the way through 2020. With this in mind, I feel this week is an ideal opportunity to set out my list of deciding factors concerning what racing series I enter next year, and explain why each factor is important to me.

Whilst the majority of these factors are in no particular order, there is of course one fundamental barrier to certain competitions. Price. One of the unique aspects of this blog is that I am striving to make this journey independent of ‘the bank of Mum & Dad’, in an attempt to prove that motorsport is not quite as elitist as it’s made out to be. Ultimately, bringing in sponsors will hopefully provide assistance to cover costs, but the potential cashflow from these avenues can be unpredictable, and the revenue gained is most likely supplementary in value.

As a result, the upper boundary of total costs for the year is likely to be £45,000. Having said that it is highly likely that even this number is unattainable, but best-case-scenario is around this figure. By total costs I should clarify this really is all inclusive, for instance the year’s petrol and tyre costs, costs of extra parts and maintenance, and transportation to and from events.

The second most important consideration is following. After all, my plan is to document this racing journey, yet if I’m competing in a class that nobody has ever heard of, that doesn’t exactly match my goal. I want to prove that, with hard work and sacrifices, it is possible to make it into well-known racing series, and racing in a series supporting high-profile, national championships like the BTCC or British GT is an attainable target. Maybe not immediately, but it may be a good level of exposure to strive for.

The next few considerations to be made relate to the cars themselves. In some series it is very easy for a select few racers to dominate proceedings, all because they were able to invest more into their car’s preparation. In some series there is nothing stopping competitors from rebuilding their engines after each round. Clearly, this is not a practice I would be able to afford, and therefore I would be immediately disadvantaged before the car is even fired up.

To combat this, I am looking at series in which vehicles are closely regulated. It is likely this requirement will limit myself to single-manufacture series, where all maintenance is completed to an equivalent standard at a standardised price. Following on from this, a series that perhaps utilises under-stressed componentry is desirable. This would further reduce in-season maintenance costs, as cars would be more reliable due to parts being less liable to failure.

The last category of consideration amounts to personal preferences in terms of what I would like to drive. In an ideal environment, I would prefer to race a rear-wheel drive car. This is mostly from the standpoint that this is what all top-level racing cars (excluding rally cars etc which are 4-wheel drive) use as their drivetrain, but partly because I currently daily-drive a front-wheel drive hatchback, so if I was to race one too my brain may find it hard to distinguish between road-driving and track-driving, potentially leading to some less-than-sensible B-road endeavours…

Finally, I would prefer not to drive a converted road-car chassis. Vehicles developed with track driving in mind are, in general, much more rigid in their shell and possess better dynamic qualities in comparison to stripped out road cars. What I mean is I don’t see the value in taking a 15-year old BMW 320i and hooning it around. For starters, a car of that class doesn’t fit in with the other considerations listed above, as the modifications completed in making it race ready would fluctuate hugely from racer to racer to start with. That does not mean the car I race can’t be road legal though. Machines like Caterhams or Ariel Atoms are prime examples of track-biased, number-plate owning weapons, of which I would be thrilled to drive.

So there we have it, what I am specifically studying when considering where to race in the next year. A few of the coming episodes will contain in depth reviews of the racing series I am looking at potentially entering, where I will dive in to whether they fit my requirements. It will be interesting to see which tops the chart by the end of the year, and which I’ll be a part of in the future…

***

If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please give it a like to let me know I’ve done a good job. It’ll certainly motivate me to keep writing if I know people are interested! If you really liked it, maybe you could consider giving me a follow too, by sticking your email in the box below! Finally, if you’ve got any tips for me about racing, writing or anything else in life for that matter, then post a comment below to let me know your thoughts!

Finally, the inevitable social media plugs. Find me and follow me on Instagram and Twitter (click the icons below)! You don’t have to but it would be nice.

Race Watch 2 (Part 2)

Bathurst 12 Hour 2020 (Race)

This week it was the return of the Bathurst 12 Hour, one of my personal favourite events on the whole of the motorsport calendar. The combination of the brilliant production-based GT3 cars, and the legendary Mount Panorama circuit always create a brilliant spectacle.

SO, WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED AND WHAT DID I THINK OF IT?
MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THESE TOPICS?
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND LET’S GET A DISCUSSION GOING!

Welcome to Race Watch, a supplementary feature running alongside my blog designed for me to project any opinions that may have arisen from the motorsport events I viewed over the previous weekend.

***

And so, we progress to Sunday. Race Day. 12 non-stop hours of dazzling headlights, exhilarating exhaust notes and, as expected, spine-chilling shunts.

The cars get underway before the Sun even begins its daily ascent, compounding the difficulty of the hectic race start for the drivers, who have not had the opportunity to acclimatise themselves to night-time running during practice. It was the 999 Mercedes-AMG who combatted this challenge best, storming up the inside of both the Porsche 911 (brilliantly also carrying the race number of 911) and the No. 60 Mclaren 720s to emerge from the first corner in the lead after starting third.

Early on the Porsche struggled for pace, whilst No. 60, piloted by British racer Ben Barnicoat, was flying. A magnificent move at the end of Conrod Straight outwitted the 999 AMG, enabling the 720s to lead the first Bathurst 12 Hour it had entered. The move itself was stunning, a dummy to the outside followed by a quick cut-back to the inside of The Chase was executed with such precision it seemed as though the front bumper of the Mclaren actually brushed against the rear of the Merc, yet there was not a mark on either vehicle.

Simultaneously, the No.8 Bentley, who had not qualified due to its brake failure during Saturday practice, was carving its way through the field. Having started in 34th (and last), driver Seb Morris had managed to move his way into 12th at the end of the second hour.

They were certainly aided by early safety car stoppages, the first resulting from the No. 188 Aston Martin. Coming through Skyline at the peak of the mountain, the rear of the car squirmed under braking, meaning driver Come Ledogar was unable to make it through The Esses, and the car was collected by a wall. A good piece of reactive driving from the sister Garage 59 machine avoided collateral damage, which could have been a horrendous end to the team’s weekend.

Safety car number 2 was deployed at the expense of the No. 6 Lamborghini. A magnificent concentric-circle livery on the Italian vehicle was unable to save driver Julian Westwood from running out of talent, as he hit the left-hand wall on the approach to The Dipper. This caused significant damage to the car’s left-hand side, ending the team’s hopes of a win.

The third deployment of the Mercedes-AMG E63 safety car occurred in the third hour of the race. The No. 22 Valvoline Audi – one of a trio of nearly identical R8’s – came to rest in the infamous McPhillamy gravel-trap, where the majority of the mistakes in qualifying occurred. On this occasion local driver Garth Tander lost the rear-end whilst attempting to pass another of the Valvoline machines, causing him to sustain quite a hard impact into the tyre barrier.

In the midst of these crashes, the No. 60 Mclaren had regained control of the race at the 4-hour mark. They were immediately followed, however, by the No. 7 Bentley. The M-Sport car run by Frenchman Jules Gounon, South African Jordan Pepper and Belgian Maxime Soulet had been making quiet inroads on their competitors. Having started the race in 11th they first inherited the lead of the race around 100-laps into proceedings, and had cemented their front-running status after 150 laps, leading from the 77 AMG and the 60 Mclaren halfway through the race.

It was also around the 150-lap mark when the race’s recurring theme (other than safety cars) began to rear its head. That theme was punctures. The No. 911 Porsche 911 was the first car bitten, as it had a puncture right at the top of the mountain, meaning the team fell off the lead lap due to the time lost in returning to the pits.

This was soon followed by an identical puncture for the No. 222 Audi. Admittedly this one was expected, as damage to the bodywork had been rubbing against the tyre for a number of laps, yet the team elected not to pit whilst the car was still setting competitive lap times. This did, however, effectively end the race for the Audi team as a whole, after the 2 car had crashed and the 22 suffered from mechanical issues. In short, it was a weekend to forget for the Valvoline team, with pretty much every possible problem occurring at one point or another.

As the race wore on, the cars wore down. The No. 63 Lamborghini, having been running fifth overall, suffered a mechanical issue down the long mountain straight, and driver Dennis Lind had no choice but to abandon the car at the side of the road, leading to, that’s right, a safety car! In all fairness the 4 hours and 10 minutes between safety car periods stood as a new record for the Bathurst 12 Hour race, and significantly closed up the field, ensuring that the eight remaining cars within a lap of the lead were all in contention.

As the racers entered the ninth hour of the twelve, the astounding comeback drive for the No. 8 Bentley came to an end. Having driven valiantly to consolidate a top-10 position, the rear-left tyre gave way as Oliver Jarvis navigated his way through the dipper. Stranded and facing the wrong way on the track, the safety car had to be deployed to enable the recovery truck to assist the broken Bentley, ending the possibility of what would have been a remarkable last-to-first win.

As tiredness kicked in, mistakes began to occur. Mclaren, Mercedes and Porsche all fell victim to penalties for pit stop infractions, and yet more tyres blew. The No. 7 Bentley spectacularly lost a tyre coming down Conrod straight, having been on course for the fastest lap of the race. Luckily, due to how close the car was to the pit lane and the scheduled stop only being a couple of laps later, the car only lost a few seconds of time. This puncture was quickly followed by similar incidents to the 77 and 999 Mercedes’, taking the race total to six isolated incidents.

It was this puncture that ultimately led to the 999 car losing second place, as a 30 second penalty awarded after the race for not switching the engine off during the stop. This penalty threat did not, however, hinder young Italian Raffaele Marciello from making a boisterous pass on the No. 60 Mclaren at the final corner of the penultimate lap for second on the road, yet it was in vain, as they were reclassified sixth at the flag.

As the time elapsed, though, there was a clear winner. With the winning margin being over 40 seconds, the No. 8 Bentley cruised home at the hands of Jules Gounon. Having previously competed in every round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge since the competition’s inception in 2016 to no avail, it was finally the Bentley Boys’ time to shine, breaking Bathurst records in the process after beating the distance travelled record, with a staggering 314 laps, and becoming the first car from outside the top seven to win the event, having started 11th.

Second was the No. 60 Mclaren 720s GT3 in its Bathurst debut, and the 888 Mercedes-AMG GT3 rounded off the podium. Audi’s torrid day did at least have a small silver-lining, as Kelvin Van Der Linde managed the fastest lap of the race in the No. 222 R8 LMS.

One of the many reasons why I love the GT3 class is due to the variety. This weekend saw GT3 machinery from 10 different manufacturers, and with 8 of those manufacturers occupying space within the top 11 after qualifying, it really shows how competitive the series is. What are your thoughts? Did you watch the race? Who were you rooting for? Let me know in the comments!

Race Watch 2 (Part 1)

Bathurst 12 Hour 2020 (Qualifying)

This week it was the return of the Bathurst 12 Hour, one of my personal favourite events on the whole of the motorsport calendar. The combination of the brilliant production-based GT3 cars, and the legendary Mount Panorama circuit always create a brilliant spectacle.

SO, WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED AND WHAT DID I THINK OF IT?
MORE IMPORTANTLY, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THESE TOPICS?
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW AND LET’S GET A DISCUSSION GOING!

Welcome to Race Watch, a supplementary feature running alongside my blog designed for me to project any opinions that may have arisen from the motorsport events I viewed over the previous weekend.

***

This weekend my motorsport event of choice was the Bathurst 12 Hours, the first round of the 2020 Intercontinental GT series. Unlike last week, where rallying was a fairly new-found motorsport love of mine, I have been watching and loving the Bathurst 12hr for the last 3 years or so.

What initially drew me into the event was a number of unique characteristics of the event that were fairly novel to me, for example the top 10 shootout during qualifying, and the start in the darkness despite no night-time practice, and therefore the racing through the sunrise made for a great spectacle.

This year, the event could have been summarised by two events. Red flags and punctures.

For Mount Panorama, red flags are certainly no rarity. Given the tight, twisty nature of the challenging mountain section, almost any wreckage that occurs during practice or qualifying makes the red flag a necessity. The sheer number of crashes that occurred before race day had even begun, however, was bordering on the ridiculous. One of the KCMG Nissan GT-R’s had to withdraw from the race after a shunt during Friday practice, whilst on Saturday the No. 8 Bentley had brake failure at the the fastest section of the track, The Chase. This prompted a full rebuild for the M-Sport team, who had to miss qualifying and begin the race from the pitlane. Saturday practice also marked the end of the weekend for the No. 27 Ferrari, after losing the rear of the car at McPhillamy Park, a fast, downhill left-hander with a blind turn-in.

During qualifying itself, there were no less than 4 red flag periods. First of all was the No. 2 Audi R8. The Audi had a very similar accident to the Ferrari, losing the back-end on turn-in to McPhillamy, before skipping across the gravel and into the tyre barrier. The Audi was lucky, however, as the angle of the car’s impact with the tyres meant considerably less damage was caused in comparison to the Italian car, and so the team were able to repair the vehicle in time for the race.

The No. 2 wasn’t even the first car to have a moment at that particular corner in qualifying, and it certainly wasn’t the last. The first off during qualifying was actually another of the 3 Valvoline-sponsored Audi’s, No. 22. Pilot Christopher Mies was much more fortunate than his teammate though, as he was able to just drift through the gravel and back onto the circuit. There were more to come, however, that weren’t so fortunate.

The second red flag of the session was caused by an unusual incident. One of the invitational-class Marc cars had a big moment just before the Skyline turn (just after McPhillamy), losing wheels and almost bouncing up and over the concrete barrier. As a result, the 777 Mercedes-AMG braked before the corner, exercising caution, yet the Lamborghini behind 777 was following too closely to react to the AMG’s brakes, and could only tap the Merc into the barrier at the side of the circuit.

Into the second part of qualifying, and the session that mattered for the GT3 machines. Marvin Kirchhofer, in the 62 Aston Martin, was pushing hard. A little too hard, as it turned out, as he ran wide going into The Grate (just before McPhillamy), tapping the barrier on the outside. This caused the driver to lose control, and the car oversteered into the outer barrier on the exit of the corner, where it slid for a while before flipping. It was a nasty hit, as Kirchhofer would have been flat out on the accelerator, with the car going at a fair few clicks. This particular accident spelt the end of the weekend for the 62 Aston team, with chassis damage too extensive to repair.

The final red flag in qualifying involved another Lamborghini, and once again occurred at McPhillamy’s. On this occasion, it was the No. 29 Huracan, losing the rear end much like the Ferrari and the R8 had before it. Instead of coming to rest in the tyre barrier, though, this Lambo decided to hop it, landing on the grass verge above it.

Throughout all the crashes, an actual qualifying session took place, and after the conclusion of the Top 10 Shootout, it was a Porsche 911, driven by last year’s winner Matt Campbell, at the top of the timing sheet for the first time in a Bathurst 12 Hour qualifying. Other notable performances included Alvaro Parente guiding his Mclaren 720s GT3 to second on the grid during the car’s maiden Bathurst outing, and Jake Dennis wrestling his Aston Martin Vantage GT3 into the top 10, despite the car not seeming to quite be on the pace all weekend.

In my opinion, though, the single best outcome from qualifying was the sheer evenness across the manufacturers. At the end of qualifying the top 11 spots on the grid were occupied by 8 different car-makers. To me, that shows just how well the GT3 regulations have been written, enabling the FIA to create the healthiest, most competitive field across motorsport. The Balance of Performance regulations have their opposers, but to me they were absolutely nailed this weekend.

What are your opinions. Are you a fan of BoP or are you against a ‘gimmick’ that unnaturally levels the playing-field? Let me know in the comments below!

So much happened at Bathurst that this article is already as long as last week’s Rally Monte Carlo edition, and I don’t want to bore you all! As a result I’m going to end this one here, and my review of the race itself will be out tomorrow, at the same time as usual!