Melbourne GP – Viva Supercar Ride

Time for a post of a different kind, well not really but maybe a different angle of attack apposed to my regular style.

This very website has in itself been a build much larger than any material object depicted in these pages, the framework was constructed in 2010 to house the Hilux build and 7 years later I want to pay respect to where it has landed me.

This website is a landing page for people like yourself from all around the world, the path that led you here changes dramatically, some are fed by social media, some are fed through the search for information and some just stumble apon these very pages and get lost in the journey of creation.

The statistics stack up though and it opens up my world to many interesting opportunities.

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Last year Viva Energy invited me along to Bathurst 1000 for an all access day inside the DJR Penske Shell V-Power Racing garage, an amazing event to be a part of and a huge positive influence on my automotive pursuits.

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So last Tuesday I received an email with an invite to the Melbourne GP and specifically another day inside the DJR Penske Shell V-Power racing team garage with the added bonus of a hot lap with Scott McLaughlin, goes without saying but I jumped at the offer.

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So how was it? Incredible….. as the team ran over the car for the pre start checks my excitement grew, the car dropped to the ground and was pushed out into pit lane, I spoke to Scott while he setup his helmet and he indicated that they are using the non championship round to gain valuable data and try out a few different settings that you probably wouldn’t risk doing in a championship round. He made it very clear that this is an important event for the team with an international focus on the car and its supporters.

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As I stepped into the car and let the team strap me in I could hardly see Scott, sitting low down in line with the B pillar you start to understand the lack of sight they have and the need for that massive rear vision mirror hanging from the intricately constructed roll cage. Before the RPM rose I could hear Scott on the radio, talking about roll bar settings and pedal feel, as much data as the team has (its a lot) the driver still needs to relay how the car feels in relation to the figures received by the pit screens.

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With a clunk from the rear mounted Albins Transaxle 6 speed gearbox we were off down pit straight, a sea of Formula 1 cars to our right lined the lane, with the pit speed limiter choking the 5 litre engine to a fraction of its 635hp we made our way to freedom. With a green light and a clear track ahead of Scott the speed limiter was disingaged and the 635hp was transferred to the Albert Park asphalt via its Dunlop 18 inch slicks.

First gear didnt last long, 7,500rpm flashed by and 2nd gear came with a brief ignition cut brought on by the Motec ECU receiving a signal from the shifters load cell, seamless power delivery through the entire rpm range, there were no surprises here, 1 and a half tonne and 635hp should feel like this.

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As we sailed into the first chicane I remembered the fact that with me on board the car tipped the scales at 1500kg and in my mind we were well past the braking point, sure enough Scott positioned the car and applied the brakes all while turning in and over the inside ripple strip. This track is relatively easy on the car, the ripple strips are small, theres no undulations, its a relatively undemanding circuit for a car thats engineered to withstand a much more demanding layout.

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As the lap progressed I took a moment to watch Scott and see how his inputs impacted the cars behavior, the track seemed relatively “Green” but I think it was the tyres steadily gaining tempreture and therefore traction as we progressed through the lap, Scott’s steering behavior and throttle control was just that…. controlled!

The entire package just seemed so refined and smooth, in a chaotic way the car seemed so well balanced and behaved, wide open throttle through sweeping turns bringing the mirror inches from the concrete barrier, the bright orange braking markers flashing by, 150m, 100m followed by hard braking and seemless downshifts that didn’t seem to unsettle the cars behavior at all, Scotts little jab on the steering wheel brought the car through the turn and its this characteristic I liked the most, its because of the spool differential the car seems to enjoy being tipped in and driven out hard.

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Running onto the straight and popping through the gears we start our first full attack at turn 1, under braking the g forces try and pull the eyeballs out of my skull, I can tell that Scotts testing this car, for a moment I knew we would be on the limit of its braking capability and with a slight reduction in braking force he found the turn in point and the harmony of wide open throttle began all over again.

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This was an experience I will never forget, yes being inside my Hilux is a lot more chaotic, exhilarating and obnoxious but its the refinement, pressure, skill and environment of a Supercar that adds so much more to the experience, as a Supercar driver you have to be the entire package, to be a Supercar the team need to all understand what the car needs and refine it to be the tool that works in every environment, its this understanding that creates the biggest success and I believe the DJR Penske Shell V-Power racing have it, this years set to be an amazing fight and I cant thank Shell V-Power enough for having me along for the ride.

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Bonus stuff!

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Team work is the best work.

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Some Nissan V8 Action

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Throttle envy.

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The GT Series is a good excuse to make fast cars faster.

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Wider

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More dramatic than you can imagine, these cars really have a presence about them.

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Composites with wings on wings, just how we like it.

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The Carrera Porsche Cup was also an addition to the schedule.

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Followed by the Historics.

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There was interesting stuff throughout the entire Albert Park precinct.

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I was surprised and also excited to see this drag bike.

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The Buell badge on the tank really misled anyone wondering what it was.

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But the S&S billet cases, custom barrels, high end electronics, chromoly frame make this bike totally custom.

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The attention to craftsmanship was stunning.

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The finish on the entire bike really left a lasting impression on me.

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Not to mention the raw carbon splashed all over it.

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Next to it was this thing.

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A Nova that was also built to a similar scale.

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Also proving that cubes are king on the quarter mile.

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Have you ever seen the Stadium Super Trucks? They are a favorite of mine and I am always wondering how they put up with the punishment they get.

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Now I know.

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Australia may have a new series in 2018 with the Formula 5000 making a return, its an amazing engineering feat.

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With the timeless style of the older Formula 5000 cars using newer technology like the Coyote V8 and Hollinger transaxle.

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I liked this Historic Hilborn mechanical injection system.

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Something for everyone.

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Thanks to Lachy and the students from RMIT for the insightful tour of their electric Formula SEA car.

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Thats a wrap, good times at the Melbourne F1GP, excited for the racing to begin, thanks once again to Shell V-Power racing for these opportunities.