Driver’s Eye View: Gold Coast 600

Between James Courtney’s super human efforts, Jack Perkins’s first win, and those crazy chicane tyre bundles, V8 Supercars driver and analyst Tony D’Alberto had plenty to look into following the Gold Coast 600.

Let’s start with James Courtney. He might have put on a brave face and talked about how he was good to go before the event, but deep down… he wouldn’t be human if he hadn’t have had some concerns over how violent the cars are when you’re driving around a street circuit like that.

It’s really not the place you want to be testing out an injury, but far out, to go out there and win really shows the determination and the grit that the guy’s got. That’s probably why he’s where he’s at and has achieved what he’s achieved in his career.

The kerbs would have been brutal with an injury like that. At the back chicane, you’re just banging from one kerb to the next without much time in between.

And then the driver changes are equally as violent. You’re basically throwing yourself into the car or out of the car. It all has to happen inside 12 to 15 seconds, so the only way to do it is jump in or out with all of your strength. So many guys get injuries and bruises from it, so it would have made James a little tender.

I’m sure when Monday rolled around, James would have been very sore. Although having won would have eased some of the pain.

Perkins breaks through

In motorsport, there are plenty of days when you question your own involvement in the sport. There are generally a lot more down days than good days – but when you get a result, like a win, it makes all the difference.

That is what Jack Perkins will be realising right about now.

It’s not just that they won, but how they won. I was talking to Jack mid-race, and he was convinced that they were done, that they weren’t going to get a result. But credit to the team, they changed their strategy as the race developed, and got a result.

So for Jack there would have been an element of surprise. He’s been in the sport for a long time, like myself, and it’s deserved success. Like everybody, he puts a lot into it, and he certainly would have enjoyed it.

Kerb Your Enthusiasm

Funnily enough, that spectacular chicane over at the beach isn’t actually too bad when you’re sitting in the car.

You’ve really got to hit it with some conviction. If you don’t attack that chicane, then the car doesn’t pop up enough to clear the tyres.

It probably looks worse than it is; it’s not so much the impact itself, it’s when you’re landing, and the car goes from hitting the kerb on one side to the next side. It’s relentless – and that’s where James would have been feeling it in the car! I know even for myself, my helmet was getting thrown around from side-to-side.

This year with the tyre bundles, you were restricted with how much of the kerb you could take. And we saw so many front splitter pay the price for that.

You’ve got to really pick your line. You can’t smack it head-on, and that’s what I mean about hitting it with conviction. You have to make the car climb up and clear those bundles.

Keeping it clean

I was a little bit surprised at how well behaved everyone was this year. I know in previous years, you walk down pit-lane on Saturday evening after the first race and there’s barely a straight panel to be seen.

But this year there really wasn’t a lot of damage going on – particularly given we were on the hard tyres. That made the circuit so much more difficult compared to running the soft tyre. I spoke to a lot of guys, and I felt it myself. The car was so sketchy over the lap, because there was so much less grip.

We were all on the limit the whole time, and there were plenty of times where I thought I’d over-stepped it. That makes it tricky. With that hard tyre, it made it a different place to drive.

However we all got through it mostly unscathed. I think you can largely put that down to how many experienced guys there are in the paddock now, both full-time and in co-driver roles.

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