V8 Supercars newcomer Mark McNally is well aware of just how tough his series debut will be at the Dunlop Townsville 400 this weekend as he attempts to make up for the experience he concedes to his rivals on the latest addition to the schedule.
The West Australian will make his first ever start at the top level of V8 Supercar competition in far north Queensland this weekend after four years in the second-tier Fujitsu series and, as the city of Townsville gets set for its first ever V8 event, McNally will be sharing the locals' sense of anticipation and excitement as he realises a lifelong dream.
“I guess, first up, it's going to be really exciting because to get behind the wheel of the Hi-Tec Oils Commodore in the main series is a dream come true," the newcomer commented, "Expectation-wise, to be honest, I really don't have any. I'm not going to focus on specific targets. For me, it's about getting used to the car and where all the dials and switches are, getting comfortable out on track and starting to work on getting some speed out on the track. My main goal is to go out there and stay out of trouble, do every lap and try to get as much experience as I can."
The 27-year-old is determined to learn as much as he can behind the wheel of the #16 Hi-Tec Oils Holden Commodore, keen to concentrate purely on finishing both 200-kilometre races.
“It's a big task that lies ahead of me," McNally admitted, "In terms of preparing myself, I made sure I came over to Melbourne to Kelly Racing to learn about the Hi-Tec Oils Commodore and all the crew and just try to chip away at it and understand what I have to do, because it's a big step from the Fujitsu Series to main series. The races are a lot longer and the level of competition is far superior. So it's about getting in and learning steadily, and then progress from there.
“Ideally, I would have loved to go up to Townsville early to have a look around the track and get away but, because I was in Darwin and then home to Perth before getting over to Melbourne to meet everyone at Kelly Racing, that wasn't possible. As soon as I get to Townsville, I will hit the track and walk around the circuit with Todd, Rick and Jack [Perkins] and all our engineers. On the track walk, you really try to break down the course and analyse it as much as you can and work out the best way to attack it from there.”