I have just arrived in Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans, reflecting on another interesting weekend in Australia.

The week started out really well when I arrived into Sydney, because I went and had breakfast with my mum, who I haven't seen for a while. It was nice to touch base with her and catch up on what was happening in her life.

I then went back to the airport to meet with Max Wilson, my team-mate in the Dick Johnson Racing [DJR] team. We drove to Bathurst and I told Max that we should stop at Katoomba, in the blue mountains, for some lunch. Katoomba is a beautiful place, with spectacular views of the mountain range and rain forests. We had lunch at a hotel overlooking the mountains and decided that we should stay for the night as we had a little time on our hands.

I knew a little about Katoomba as a child, because my mother was born and raised there. I took him to see the 'Three Sisters', an icon for the area. The next morning, we did the sightseeing gig - going down a cliff on a train, walking around the rain forest and then going back up in a cable car. Max was taken aback by the beauty of the place and it was a great way to start the weekend off.

When we finally got to Bathurst, we checked out the track and talked with the boys about the car and the plans for the weekend. Max and I where sharing a house with Warren Luff and Steve Johnson, who drove the other DJR car, Dick himself, his wife Jill and the general manager of the team, Steve Chalker. Warren, 'Chalks', Max and I were sharing the garage, which was done as one big room with four beds in it!

I went to bed and was looking forward to a great night's sleep after travelling for 22 hours, but I was woken up by the snoring of one of the four guys I was sharing this room with. I threw a pillow at him and it landed on his face - he didn't move or stop snoring!

The other two - who were also awake by now - and I where pi**ing ourselves laughing at this, but I decided to pick up the mattress and head for the lounge floor. Thankfully, I managed to get some sleep and woke up in the morning to the sound of Australian birds singing away - and to find Max on the floor next to me. In Big Brother style, the snorer in question got voted out and slept in someone else's house after that....

As soon as practice started, I jumped into the car and went out. The track at Bathurst is simply awesome, and I am pleased that it still has the same character after all these years. Let's hope this track remains like this forever.

I went around, getting a feel for the V8 car again, and, once again, realised that it is such a different car to drive. As it had at Sandown two weeks earlier, it took me until the race to feel a part of it. As a result of his greater experience with the Ford, Max did the qualifying and we started 14th. He was on a blinder when a red flag came out, though, and unfortunately missed out on a top six spot. At least Steve Johnson got tenth and was in the top ten shootout.

The shootout is a one lap flyer and great to watch. Steve went out first and did a good lap of a 2min 08.9secs, but the times were coming down bit-by-bit, although it was really close between all the cars. One of the favourites, Mark Skaife, didn't pull it off - to the obvious delight of the crowd. The Aussies have a love-hate relationship with the HRT team.

John Bowe went out and did a great lap to be quickest at 2min 07.9secs, but then Greg Murphy went out and did what can only be described as the most stunning lap I have ever seen. He went around the track in 2min 06.8secs, and everyone in pit-lane and the crowd was in total awe. Just about everyone in pit-lane went out and clapped in appreciation of what they just witnessed. That has never happened in Australia before - and 'Murph' is a Kiwi too!.

Max started the race and was driving really well, moving up to eighth after a few laps. The race settled down a little before I jumped in, but the pace car came out and we missed the time to come in. Max pitted a lap later, I jumped in and caught the line up, but found myself back in 25th place. Bugger!

When I got going, I was passing a few cars but, on the next lap, I went across the top of the mountain and braked for Skyline, only to be punted in the rear car and sent straight into the wall. To make matters worse, this was beyond a blind corner and we managed to block the track. The move this guy tried to do on me was in a pretty stupid place, and it took us pretty much out of the race.

I managed to get the car back to the pits and the team fixed it up, but we lost two laps in the process. We went around trying to catch up and use some yellows to do it, but it never worked. In the end, we finished twelfth. The car was running well in the race, and it was a real shame for all the guys in the team.

At the front, Greg Murphy won the race with Rick Kelly, who became the youngest winner at 20 years old. Well done guys!

I am now off to the track in Atlanta to see the guys about a Ferrari!

DB

 

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