David's Diary - The End Chapter for 2017
Well, we have reached the end of our 2017 racing journey for MTAQ Racing. And what a rollercoaster we have had this year, and in line with the ups and downs of the year – we managed to finish off the year with a bang, Unfortunately literally!
The Final round of the Queensland championships started well for us. Friday practice went relatively smoothly, with no dramas to report. There had been a lot of recent rain in Warwick, so the track was washed quite clean and didn’t have a lot of grip in it, which had everyone scratching their heads as to what the best set up was. By the end of Friday, we had tried a few different things and felt we had something reasonable for qualifying Saturday.
Qualifying went well, we ended up 5th fastest, less than half a second from Pole. I was running around mostly in clear air for the session, and didn’t get a tow/slipstream of other cars – which is usually good for half a second – so probably didn’t maximise but we were still in the top 5 so that was a solid start. After a few suspension tweaks, Saturday’s race one went according to plan - and we were able to move forward to finish a close 3rd, which was our best result for the year and right in the lead group. This was a great achievement and continues our trajectory of improvement, so confidence was high than we were on track to really make a pest of ourselves on Sunday.
We put some more thought into the car’s suspension set up Saturday over the team BBQ, and made some changes to it for Sunday mornings Race 2. I am happy to report it worked, and the car was an absolute jet. After making a good start, we pounced early and moved to 2nd on the opening lap, right on the tail of the race leader. I felt we had pace in hand, and our first win was well within reach. It was a surreal moment.
Unfortunately, the black jelly bean luck curse that has followed us for most of the year decided that the moment was proper to spoil our fun – with the engine dropping to 3 cylinders and starting to run rough, before exploding in rather spectacular fashion half a lap later. There is some footage of it here:
And therein, our 2017 season was over. Unfortunately the engine is comprehensively destroyed, but we will build a new one and the car will be good to go again. It got quite hot at the nationals, and hot again on Saturday, so the failure is almost certainly heat related - something we can work on and improve next time out.
It was one of the most disappointing moments I have had in almost 20 years in motorsport. After all the hard work we have put in, to have put ourselves into a winning position and then to have such a big (and rare) type of failure is pretty tough to take. We had worked all year to get to that spot at that moment. But that is part of playing in a sport that has a mechanical element, it happens.
Our project was an ambitious one, and I am proud to say we have developed into one of the top teams in the state in only 5 events. We have a bit of momentum now going into next year, and some exciting things to look forward to!