Scotty's venture - Aussie Driver Search - the outcome
On Thursday 9 June Scott Stephenson participated in the Professional division of the Aussie Driver Search at the Marulan Driver Training Centre in NSW. check out the video on https://www.facebook.com/StephensonMotorsport/ and photos click here
A total of forty drivers tried out during the day, 22 in the morning and 18 in the afternoon, to test their driving skills (lap time), adaptability, attitude and mechanical sympathy.
They were each intended to have ten laps of the circuit in each of three race prepared cars;
* a Nissan Pulsar
* a Toyota 86
* a V8 Ute
The wet start to the day meant that the morning group was cut back to five laps in each car and the afternoon group had nine laps. An instructor/assessor was positioned in each car to offer hints and assess the driver’s abilities. They also contributed to traffic control by directing overtaking moves and, given the narrow track, this was a good idea. Communication in the car was difficult, with noise and full face helmets, so a lot of hand signals were used. Intercom would have helped.
Among the participants in Scott’s group there was a variety of backgrounds and levels of experience including go-karters, open wheelers, sports cars, etc, and drivers ranging from club level to National competition. Rhys Howell from Victoria was competing in Scott’s group. Rhys’s father, Andrew, and grandfather, Neville, are MGCC Vic members and Andrew originally built Murray’s Honda Civic.
The Marulan track is a tight winding track with several elevation changes, some cambered corners and a long uphill straight to the finish line. Great for driver training but you couldn’t race a full grid of V8 utes on it!
For the morning session there were three V8 utes, a Toyota 86 and a Nissan Pulsar to be shared among 22 “Professional” competition drivers and groups of ”Rookies” and “Amateur” drivers. The day was well managed with drivers rotated through the cars efficiently as a mechanic was assigned to changing drivers and transponders between cars as required. The drivers’ briefing was very emphatic that if you lock up or spin you may as well go home! Scott wasn’t worried until that was said. Given the conditions we did not see any spins, some close to it, and quite a few lock ups but nobody left the track.
Scott’s first session was in the Toyota 86 which is owned and raced by Tim Brook in the Toyota 86 series where he finished second in the first round of 2016. Tim was the instructor/assessor in the car. As Scott was one of the earliest runners this may have been a good car in which to start as it had ABS and traction control, although maybe both too sensitive, to assist while Scott came to grips with the track and the car. He managed to acquit himself well and only caused Tim to jump once when the car stepped out through turn 2. Scott thoroughly enjoyed the car and finished with a huge grin, as always.
After a short wait he was slotted into the Nissan Pulsar alongside Terry Nightingale who races in the Dunlop Development series on a drying track. As the track dried there remained several wet areas among the shaded sections so it was never really dry. The Pulsar series is active on the East Coast and these are largely standard Pulsars with controlled modifications, e.g. locked diff, and are marginally quicker than Circuit Excels. Front wheel drive with a locked diff is something different to the LSD in the Honda so another new experience. The wheels always want to drive straight ahead so turning the wheel takes some effort. This was great fun and Scott did well. In the earlier really wet conditions the Pulsar appeared to be the quickest car on track. Being familiar with front wheel drive was a help for Scott.
The third session was in the Sieders Racing Team VE Commodore ute with Matt Chahda in the passenger’s seat. SRT run in the V8 Ute series and prepare the Jesus Racing Team cars. By this time most of the track was dry so Scott had a ball. His description of the experience was something along the lines of “that thing is nuts!”. With plenty of horsepower, locked diff and minimal rear end weight it was a lot of fun. He had been warned to only push the accelerator hard when the car is dead straight, he found out that was good advice! It was easy to slide and on one occasion he managed to step it out quite dramatically, and catch it.
Three very different cars were a test of the drivers’ adaptability and particularly for Scott’s group who only had five laps to do it on a track ranging from wet to almost dry. A modern, four cylinder, rear drive car with ABS & traction control, an older four cylinder, front wheel drive car with a locked diff and a modern, V8, rear drive ute with a locked diff made it a challenge stepping from one car to the next. Add to that an unknown circuit which started out wet and partially dried along with faster and slower traffic. No wonder he was exhausted at the end of the day!
At the end of the session Scott’s lap times were 10th in the Ute, 11th in the Pulsar and 17th in the 86 but he was unfortunately not chosen to go through to the next round. It is interesting to note that the fastest time in each group did not go through as more factors were taken into consideration. Rhys also did not go through.
This was a great experience for Scott and he is most grateful to the MG Car Club of SA and Webber Davies Conveyancers, John and Sue Davies, for their generous support of his participation. The learning of a new track and new cars and the opportunity for public exposure was valuable.
Now it’s back to Excel, rebuild and see what happens next (after mid year exams that is!)
Aussie Driver Search
Scott Stephenson has entered for the Aussie Driver Search to be conducted at the Marulan Driver Training Centre in NSW on 9 June.
Two groups of twenty five drivers are tried out during the day, morning and afternoon groups, to test their driving skills (lap time), adaptability, attitude and mechanical sympathy. They each have ten laps of the circuit in each of three race prepared cars; a Nissan Pulsar, a Toyota 86 and a V8 Ute. Given that most have not seen this circuit there should be no home track advantage and the variety of cars will be an interesting test.
After the day the top ten drivers are invited back to Marulan for the final on 29 June. They have two twenty minute sessions in an Aussie Racing Car prior to a five lap shoot out.
The winner receives a fully funded arrive and drive practice day at Winton and a fully funded arrive and drive entry to the ARC event at the Queensland round of the Supercars at Queensland Raceway on 22 - 24 July.
Scott is very excited to be going head to head with some very talented young drivers from around the country with the potential to race in Queensland in an ARC. It is a big challenge and a great opportunity.
Scott also is extremely grateful to the MG Car Club of SA and Webber Davies Conveyancers, http://www.conveyancingsa.com.au/ (John & Sue Davies) for their contribution to his participation in this event.
We all wish him well in this venture and look forward to hearing about the experience. Follow Scott's venture on the Stephenson Motorsport Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/StephensonMotorsport
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