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Driving Solutions’ Instructor Tom Tweedie Ready for Top Ten
TOM TWEEDIE believes he is ready to turn the corner and become a regular top-ten runner in this years Fujitsu V8 Supercar series despite a challenging weekend at Barbagallo Raceway, outside of Perth. Tweedie finished the weekend with a pair of solid mid-pack results but now says he has enough experience that he can hopefully translate into results in the next round on the streets of Townsville, in July.
With new sponsor Land Surveys on the side of his Matthew White Motorsport BF Falcon, Tweedie’s first look at the challenging, undulating 2.42km circuit North of Perth resulted in 18th place in qualifying – however as usual the results only show a small piece of the full story.
Tweedie was .02 seconds away from the top twelve and only nine-tenths from the front row, showing the competitive nature of this years’ Fujitsu grid. Steady gains were made during the first race, held Saturday, that saw Tweedie finish 13th after managing to steer clear of all the carnage in a race that featured two safety cars. A race highlight included a mighty three-wide battle with David Wall and Tim Blanchard on the second-last lap, with Tom coming out in front.
Race two was affected before it even began; with the grid position directly in front of Tweedie’s starting spot the scene of the earlier fiery V8 supercar crash between Karl Reindler and Steve Owen – leaving the track surface covered in cement dust and debris. Sure enough, Tweedie’s Falcon broke into wheelspin as it hit the cleanup material just meters in front of his car, dropping him three places below his thirteenth place grid slot. A frustrating race saw two further safety car delays, limiting chances for improvement by the Land Surveys car and resulting in a 14th place finish. Tweedie said he learnt plenty from the tough weekend in what really did turn out to be the ‘Wild West’.
“Getting the most out of these cars is so much about experience and as it’s only my second ever round in the V8, I’m still learning,” he said. “On Friday we changed the car setup a lot to try and fix the lack of grid and it was good to improve – but the car still wasn’t 100% and due to my inexperience perhaps I wasn’t able to interpret the problems so easily. “Although my car speed in race one was pretty average my lap times were at least consistent which helped me gain positions later in the race when the other cars struggled with grip – my car was OK towards the end. “In race two I got a terrible start with too much wheelspin thanks to everything on the track in front of my grid spot. 14th was a fairly disappointing end to a weekend when we were making gains right up to that point, but you’ve just got to deal with it and move on to the next one, and I can’t wait until Townsville.”
Tweedie also said it was nice to finally have some branding along the sides of the Team Tom / MWR Falcon. “Land Surveys came onboard as my major sponsor for the weekend and I can’t thank them enough for their support. At the moment it was only for the one round but it’d be great to see them on the car for Townsville where I’m confident we can crack into the top ten. “We are really progressing and moving forward which is the main thing. We’ll get there.”
A week earlier, Tweedie was at the renowned Mount Panorama, Bathurst, circuit for his first visit to the hallowed turf of Australian Motorsport – getting some circuit experience in a Formula Ford race at the Bathurst Motor Festival. A productive weekend saw Tom gain plenty of experience on the 6.213km circuit ahead of his V8 debut there this October – with Tom even scoring a podium finish in the process despite driving his historic Formula Ford up against several late-specification models.
For more information about Tom Tweedie and the Team Tom Supporters Club, please visit www.tomtweedie.com
Success at Barbagallo for Driving Solutions’ Instructor Ben Barker
Britain’s Ben Barker claimed a first pole position and podium finish as the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia visited Barbagallo near Perth, but was denied a maiden victory by misfortune in the opening race.
The reigning Australian F3 champion laid down an early marker by posting the second fastest time in official practice, belying the fact that it was his first visit to the circuit, and, despite dropping to fifth, closed the gap to the leaders in session two, setting himself up for a competitive qualifying. Despite optimism in the Team BRM camp, however, no-one expected the relatively inexperienced Barker to go fastest of all in the crucial qualifying session, but his fifth lap proved three-tenths quicker than anyone else had managed to that point and, trying to conserve his tyres for later in the weekend, the Briton waited in pit-lane for the remainder.
“Fortunately no-one went faster!” Barker smiled, “I am thrilled with pole as I knew I had to pull out a ‘balls-out’ lap. I usually struggle with that in qualifying, but I did it with full confidence in the car. This is a big learning hurdle ticked for my future as a driver.”
Having claimed an early advantage over established antipodean stars such as Steven Richards, Craig Baird and Jonny Reid, the 19-year old undid some of his good work by making a bad start to race one, changing into second gear too early. Excessive wheelspin caused the #20 TOTAL Oils-backed car to bog down and Barker fell back to fifth place. The Briton was quickly up to speed, however, and had caught the lead pack by the second lap before making a move on Daniel Gaunt into turn 6. Despite being on the outside due to the Kiwi defending, Barker thought he had done enough to take the position – until Gaunt lost control under braking.
“He basically used me as a barrier!” the Briton sighed, “Although I was able to keep going, there was tracking and alloy damage, so I hobbled round to take 13th. Until I got taken off, I had fastest lap, but Richards eventually pinched that too.”
Starting from 13th in race two, Barker made a good start and quickly gained positions, rising to seventh by lap eight. Having been repaired between races, the Team BRM Porsche again displayed good pace and rapidly caught the next group, allowing Barker to move up to fifth place a couple of laps later.
“After that, the six-second gap to the leading group was too big, so fifth was realistically the best we could of hoped for, especially after starting at the rear of the field,” he commented, “The main aim was to save our tyres, and starting on the third row for race three gives us a good shot at an even better result.”
A much better start to the final race of the weekend saw Barker hold on to fifth and, after ten laps of nose-to-tail racing among a six-car train split by a single second, he was able to make a move on Michael Patrizi to take fourth. Reigning New Zealand Carrera Cup champion Gaunt continued to pressure the Briton, sitting on his rear bumper throughout, but, despite having to combine the desire to attack with a need to watch his mirrors, Barker was all over Baird with two laps to run.
Sniffing a potential top three finish, the BRM driver made an ambitious move in to the fast first corner, pulling it off despite the two cars coming close to contact. Reid and Richards were another second up the road but, without enough time to catch them, Barker settled for third.
“I am very happy with my first podium in the championship,” he admitted, “After our strong showing in the first round, it was due, and the team have done a great job in supplying me with a fantastic car. Fastest lap of the race was my second in six starts and I now have one pole from two rounds. Although I’ll always think that we should have won, it feels good to grab a podium considering the first race incident.
“Thanks to TOTAL Oils and CARS Europe, Driving Solutions, Race Fit for their ongoing support, and I look forward to giving them more of the same next time out!
Barker recently unveiled a new website – www.benbarkermotorsport.com – where fans can follow his progress in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia.
21st January 2011 – Track Day
An additional Track Day has been added to our 2011 calendar on 21st January 2011. This day is at the one-off discounted rate of $200 (inc GST) and will allow all our regular track day customers to experience the new format for 2011. Spaces are limites and bookings essential, at this discounted rate are filling very fast so book now to avoid disappointment. The booking form for 21st January 2011 can be downloaded her: Track Day Booking Form – 21 January 2011
Eastern Creek Track Days – New Format for 2011
Driving Solutions and the Australian Racing Drivers Club are pleased to announce our new format for the Eastern Creek Track Days for 2011, details of which can be found here.
We would like to invite our track day customers to experience the new format on Friday 21st January 2011 at the one-off discounted rate of $200 (inc GST) per driver. Spaces are strictly limited and bookings are essential, please call us on 02 9672 1000 to reserve your spot or complete and return the booking form.