At the moment that top three doesn't include me. We are a third of the way through the season and I'm not starting to panic, but I do need one of the top three to have a DNF at some stage.
Jamie (Whincup) and Will (Davison) have already had their DNF at Phillip Island in the last round, so it is not highly likely they will have another one. In particular, Jamie is the king of consistency. He hasn't won many races, but he's still within 10 points of the lead with his excellent consistency.
On the other hand, Frosty (Mark Winterbottom) is overdue to have one, although he did limp home a distant 26th place in NZ with bent steering. Just about every driver has at least one DNF in a series. There are three teams that are showing exceptional car speed and consistency this year - FPR, SBR and us.
Thankfully we have four rounds coming up that have been good to me in the past - Darwin next weekend, then Townsville, Ipswich and Eastern Creek in Sydney. I'm really happy to be returning to the Creek where I've had a lot of success over the years. It's also great to see they have spent so much money to revive a circuit to such a high standard.
They've not only added the first new race circuits in Australia in a decade, but also upgraded pit facilities and almost doubled the spectator capacity. We need more top-quality circuits in Australia. Too many have been lost to urban encroachment. Eastern Creek now has great facilities for V8 Supercars, but also for other categories of racing, as well as corporate days and vital driver and rider training sessions.
They also have a choice of tracks - the traditional "GP" 3.9km track, a short 2.8km circuit and a new, longer 4.5km track - allowing them to run more than one race meeting at the same time. We will be using the GP track which is the one we are used to. Our format will be reduced to just the two days with two 30-minute practice sessions, a qualifying session and 140km race on the Saturday and a practice session, qualifying and a longer 220km race on the Sunday.
It will be interesting to see how the condensed program will work. While it will be frantic for the teams, it should be better for the fans with more activity packed into each day. We get to drive on a combination of hard and soft tyres in both races and I'm stoked as we were fastest in testing there on the soft tyre at the spectator day in February. The flip side to Eastern Creek being added instead of another overseas round is that CAMS and the teams didn't budget for an extra Aussie round.
The extra Sydney round also swapped places with Winton which moves from August to November, so it won't be cold as usual which means all our data from previous years will be almost worthless. At least everyone is in the same boat. Hopefully by then I will have competed in my third Australasian Safari. I have been talking recently to Kees Weel about joining his team again. When I did the first event and won it two years ago people told me I would get hooked and they are right. It's a different event and a lot more relaxed and low key than V8s.