Have a bet on me in NZ

18 April 2012
, CarsGuide
Have a bet on me in NZ
Hamilton is a similar circuit to Adelaide with a lot of bitumen surface changes and a high attrition rate.

I've got a sense I might finally break through for a win in New Zealand this weekend.

In all the years I've been racing over here I've never won in a V8. I've had my successes in other classes, just not yet in V8s. There's no one reason why I haven't stood on the top step of the kiwi podium.

I've had my share of bad luck and mechanical problems in Hamilton, but we've been fast here and scored a second place last year, so there's definitely a strong chance to go one further. 

Before that, Greg Murphy just froze everyone out with his dominance at the Pukekohe race circuit. If I win this weekend, I'll probably do the haka on top of the car.

Despite being in eighth place in the championship and never winning here, I note that I'm rated second in the betting for the weekend behind my teammate Jamie Whincup ($3.25) and alongside Frosty (Mark Winterbottom) and Will Davison ($5.50). It's great to be back up the top of the betting and to be rated with those guys.

We finished last season strong and this year started off well - not great - but we had some bad luck in Tassie just when we were about to strike for a win. There's certainly room for improvement.

We haven't got any plans to make substantial changes to the car after the Tassie round. Besides, the car was very quick and nice to drive here last year. We have our heads around the car set-up, but we'll obviously have a good look at the track and the weather and make some minor adjustments. The forecast is for cool and dry conditions so grip should be high and lap times fast.

I think the secret here and on any street circuit is to have confidence in your car - and I certainly do. The corners are blind and there are a lot of concrete walls so you also have to be committed and have confidence in yourself.

Jamie is certainly the one to beat this weekend having won four times before at Hamilton. It's the nature of the track that he enjoys. He loves the challenge and always excels on street circuits. The only way we can beat Jamie is to out-qualify him and get a good grid position which is vital in a place like this.

Others to watch are Garth Tander who is always strong here and the locals, especially Shane van Gisbergen who broke through for his inaugural win last year. The Kelly brothers also went very well here last year and are performing strongly this season.

The race format this weekend is two 200km races with a shootout on Saturday and two 20-minute qualifying sessions on Sunday. Last year we had all soft tyres, but this year we have a mix of soft and hard in each race like we did in Tassie.

The strategy will therefore be the same as at Symmons Plains - get out in front, pit early and make it to the end without running out of fuel. We'll start on hard tyres and try to get on the softs earlier than the others.

Hamilton is a similar circuit to Adelaide with a lot of bitumen surface changes and a high attrition rate - especially in the back chicane which has proven to break cars. So brace yourself for a fair bit of carnage and excitement this weekend. And watch out for my victory haka.