I am not retiring yet

6 March 2012
, CarsGuide
I am not retiring yet
I've never copped a 25-point penalty before and hopefully it's the last.

I'm a long way off retiring, but it's a question on people's lips now that I've signed up for three more years with TeamVodafone.

My contract was to expire at the end of this year but the extra three years means I'll be over 40 when it expires and I will definitely be considering life after V8 Supercars at that stage.

All I can say at this point is that I will not continue if I'm circulating at the back of the pack - that's not just for my own pride but also for the sake of the team and my sponsors. 

I would have to still be in a position to win races to continue. If not, then I'd have a realistic look at my performance and my enthusiasm for motorsport. If I find I'm not excited about being inside a race car, then I'll call it quits.

There are a few of us in the same situation in the V8 paddock, such as Russell Ingall, Greg Murphy and Jason Bright. I don't think any of them have passed their use-by date. They all still have great talent and ability.

I hope my performance at the weekend with pole plus fourth and fifth places shows I still have a few good years in me yet. Cracking my first Clipsal pole was a highlight and we definitely had good car speed all weekend.

However, the flat tyre on Saturday and the economy run on Sunday prevented me from turning that speed into victory. I can understand if the fans were a bit bored, frustrated and ultimately disappointed with Sunday's race which basically turned into a fuel economy run.

We couldn't use our car speed because we were driving to a fuel number, not a lap time. That was incredibly frustrating for us as drivers, so I can just imagine how frustrating it was for the fans.

It all goes back to Saturday where fuel consumption played a big part in the race. Teams spent Saturday night working out strategies to conserve fuel, based on at least one safety car period. The problem was that for only the third time in Clipsal history there was no safety car, so that threw strategies right out the window. 

I suspect the fans were bored. It was pretty boring in the driver's seat, too, as there was no flat-out racing in the cars around me. Instead, it was a case of who could be the fastest with the least amount of fuel.

My starts were not too flash and that's something I'll have to work on. On Saturday I didn't load up the clutch enough and had too much clutch slip while on Sunday I loaded it too much and had too much wheelspin so I had to dip the clutch a little. They weren't bad starts, but they weren't as good as Garth Tander and Will Davison who were all over me.

I was going well on Saturday until I picked up some debris on turn eight from all the crashes and it pierced my rear left tyre. I thought the Watt's linkage was broken and I was lucky to make it back into the pits. I emerged in 22nd place and had a lot of catching up to do. Thankfully I had enough fuel to be able to race to the finish line while some of the cars around me were worried about fuel economy.

Unfortunately I lost 25 points for tagging Todd Kelly's car in the second last lap. I tried to pass into turn nine and didn't quite have the overlap I needed and my front left hit his rear right unfortunately turning him around. I stopped on the track to re-address the situation and avoid the penalty, but with the positioning of his car it wasn't possible.

In the past, an offence like this would incur a drive-through or cash penalty, but now the stewards issue points penalties. I've never copped a 25-point penalty before and hopefully it's the last.

While the car had enough speed to finish better than fourth and fifth, it was still my best Clipsal result and best season start for a few years. Now I just have to keep the momentum going.