It makes for exciting racing for both the drivers and the fans. As we’re getting more experience with the soft tyres we are getting more life out of them.
I don’t think the quality of the tyres is any better but teams now know how to set the car up for them and we as drivers are learning how to conserve their wear. However, with the new cars next year on 18-inch wheels, we will go back to square one with regards to set-up.
When you have a combination of hard and soft tyres in a race, teams have different strategies so you get a lot of speed differential out on the track which means loads of passing. We didn’t start the weekend off well struggling to get the car to 15th on the grid for the first race.
I was sitting there on the grid thinking I have nothing to lose so I put everything into it. We had a great start and made up four spots by turn three only to have Jason Bright turn around in front of us and lose some of that advantage.
We went into race with the strategy that if there was an early safety car we would do what we did in Darwin and turn it into a two-stop race and get on that set of soft tyres as soon as possible. My race engineer, JJ (Jeromy Moore), did a fantastic job considering the position we started in.
Jamie was always the guy to beat, but we fought hard to claim second. Once we had Saturday out of the way, we were more confident in the car and put a decent lap together for qualifying which gave us fourth on the grid.
Again Jamie was the one to beat and we would have been second had he not had that unfortunate drive-through penalty for turning his wheels while up on jacks in the pits. He didn’t celebrate after mathematically securing the championship with more than a 300-point lead.
He’s still pretty focused on the final at Homebush and won’t celebrate until the job is done and dusted. It was a shame to hear the news this week that we might be losing a couple of Kiwis next year.
Shane Van Gisbergen is one of the characters of the sport and we need the next generation of drivers coming through. If he does quit, he will be going home with unfinished business.
At the other end of the game is Greg Murphy who appears to be out of a drive for next year. However, I wouldn’t write him off yet. He’s still a talented driver in the right car and he was in this exact same position this time last year.
Murph has contributed a lot to the sport over the years and it would be a sad day if he left. However, he’s colourful and opinionated and if the rumours are true it would be great to see him annoying Mark Skaife and Neil Crompton in the media centre.