Team Kiwi Wary Of Canberra Reputation
Team Kiwi Wary Of Canberra Reputation
By: Lance Hastie of www.car.co.nz
Middle of June is traditionally winter in the Southern Hemisphere, and this weekend's round of V8 Supercar racing in Canberra is no exception.
For Team Kiwi Racing, the time they have spent in the South Island recently has helped them acclimatise to the cool conditions expected in Canberra this weekend.
Down to -2deg C at night and in the mid 10's during the day, the temperature is very much similar to the lower South Island of New Zealand.
For David John, Team Owner of Team Kiwi Racing, the round at Canberra this weekend requires due diligence and consideration of the cooler weather.
"Because of the cooler temperatures we need to use heaters to warm the engine before starting the car", said David John. "It also takes a little longer to get temperature in to the tyres and get the lubricants up to temperature."
Once the cars are all up and running, the pivotal ingredient to the weekend is to qualify well.
Canberra is a fairly tight circuit and is well known for the 'freight-train' nature of the cars as they end up in one big long queue. A street circuit - the roads used in Australia's Capital Territory, are locked off with concrete barriers - making them very unforgiving if they are bumped at high speed.
"Canberra is a very difficult track to pass on and can be quite damaging, as we have seen in the past - there is simply no room for error", said David John.
Needing to qualify well, the qualifying positions give a strong indication on the expected finishing position of the cars, provided they don't succumb to mechanical or accident issues.
"Consistency is the key in Canberra, so it is all important to qualify well", said David John. "I'd expect all 34 cars to be less than 1 second apart in qualifying - so we need to focus on finishing all three races to ensure we get a maximum points haul."
Improving on last year's rapid rise, Team Kiwi Racing have had 6 top 20 finishes so far this year and has them in 23rd place for championship points, after finishing their debut year 25th.
Only 57 points behind the Shell Helix Ford Falcon of Paul Radisich, the team are mixing it with some top names in the V8 Supercar field.
For a small team, budget plays a big part on what they can realistically achieve in the big dollar world of V8 Supercar racing. With changes to the breed of engine for the 2003 season, the team finds it difficult to justify spending excess money on engine rebuilds when they will have to start next year with fresh engines. The same goes too for the front suspension of their Commodore, which will also be upgraded before the start of the 2003 season.
That is where their current national tour comes in to play. The VB Tyre changing competition is helping to fundraise so the team can purchase the newer lightweight pit guns, to assist with changing tyres during pit stops.
"Team Kiwi Racing is the last team to switch over these lightweight guns", says David John. "We can expect a 5-6 second improvement in our pit times and in a race that can be the difference of around 5 race places. It comes down to a simple issue of prioritising our budget, so we are helping speed the process up by fundraising during our tour."
Upon returning from Australia, the team will fly direct to Christchurch, where they continue their tour of the South Island.
Dunedin holds the current record in the tyre changing competition, held in -2degree conditions. With support on the whole being very positive - "We were thrilled to have over 200 people turn out to have a go at the tyre changing competition in Invercargill".
The ultimate goal is to be able to introduce the new lightweight guns as soon as possible to assist the team move up the leader board.
Until then, the Stegbar Canberra 400 V8 Supercar race will see the Team fly the kiwi flag in a strong effort to once again chip away at the old hands of V8 Supercar racing on June 7-9.