Ben Grice reports on The Super-Sub!

No.3 Finance Ezi, Aussie Racing Car

Round 3, Queensland Raceway, V8 Supercars
July 26-28, 2013

Ben Grice reports on The Super-Sub!

Lunchtime Thursday I received a call from team boss Maurie Pickering telling me that the driver of the Finance Ezi Aussie Racing Car, Damian Ward, had suffered a sports injury and as well as suffering from the flu, so was unfit to drive the team’s car. Ipswich, being Finance Ezi Racing’s local track, they wanted the car on the circuit.

After hearing this news I was genuinely gutted for Damien, as he’s a ripper bloke and a great driver. But as I was already planning to go to the meeting to watch, and perhaps give the boys a hand with the development series cars, I jumped at the chance to get behind the wheel. As I had a little experience in this category I was happy to be the team’s choice as replacement driver!

Thankfully, my employer understood the situation, and sent me to the track to sort my seat position, belts and window name stickers.

On Friday, with only one 20-minute session to adapt to the car and struggling with some handling and balance issues, I managed to record the 12th fastest time in the session – battling both fog and heavy traffic. A strong start considering I had not driven one of these cars in a long time.

These cars are very twitchy and nervous in nature caused by their light weight, small track and wheelbase. They are difficult cars to drive fast and they certainly keep you on your toes! After the session I conversed with the team boss and mechanics and we agreed on set up and technical chances to improve the car for qualifying.

Saturday was a big day with qualifying and two races, all before 1pm.
Qualifying was a big improvement in both car and driver and I managed to qualify 8th the best result for the car this season, an achievement I am happy with considering the strength of the field and no testing time in the car.

Race 1 was 12 laps and I got a good start from 8th . The drivers were an incredibly feisty bunch swapping positions 2 or 3 times each lap with hard, fun racing. Trying to maintain position, we let a few slip by and lost the tow of the lead group and brought it home to finish 10th. A great start but still some areas to work on, I was feeling that we were good enough to run at the front, with a bit more time in these cars.

Race 2 was also 12 laps. We started 10th, got away well, settled in and moved up the order to 6th place where we were dive-bombed at turn 4 by an out of control car and sent spinning off into the paddock coming back on in 14th place.
Soon after, the safety car bunched the field up for a 3 lap dash to the flag. Racing hard and pulling big moves we fought back to finish a satisfying 7th.

A fantastic day, 6th in points so far! Although we weren’t first, for me it was a win.
Saturday was one of the most satisfying days of my career, to jump in a car that was so foreign, adapt and immediately run inside the top 10 made me incredibly pleased.

Sunday’s race 3 was again 12 laps but with a reverse top 10, which meant we started in 4th position.

Getting a strong start, I managed to pass for third on the opening lap.
Lap 2, Heading into turn 3, I was again hit by car from behind sending me off the road and into the paddock I rejoined very far back in 36th position. I felt gutted but it was time to press on and stay calm. I was hoping for a safety car to help close the but it never came. We still managed to charge back passing 3 cars at a time under brakes to finish 17th with an engine that was losing power and over heating with a top of 100°C.
After the race we realised the radiator had fatigued and slowly leaked water gave the sensor a false reading, we feared the engine had gotten much hotter and could be hurt.

But we pressed on into Race 4 under looming weather. Starting 9th and down on horsepower we struggled on the straights. On the straight from turn five to six I was crashed into by another car, he rode my right rear wheel and was dragged on top of my car for at least 80 meters. We slipped down the field with the damage and a sick engine. The rain intensified and cars where firing off the road in all directions. But we managed to stay on to finish 17th.

In summary an overall 12th for the weekend was pretty good considering my first time in the car, so I felt it was a good result. Sunday didn’t go our way but that’s motor racing. I wish to thank team boss Maurie Pickering for choosing me to fill in. Get well soon Damo.

Ben Grice