No roof haka for me in NZ

24 April 2012
, CarsGuide
No roof haka for me in NZ
The good news is that we are returning to Eastern Creek in August. I love that track and have had some success there.

I had promised a traditional Maori celebration dance if I scored my first victory on New Zealand soil, but things didn't go according to plan.

However, the weekend wasn't a total loss. Two fourth places seems like a fairly average weekend, but they are good points and there are still 33 races to go in the season.

More important than scoring a podium was the fact that I've gone from eighth in the standings to fourth. As we saw last year we just need to take maximum points when we can from each round, not go for a win-it-or-bin-it attitude.

If we continue to do that this season we should be in good shape at the end of the season. We haven't traditionally done well around Hamilton's streets apart from one wet race, so I'm happy enough to take away two fourth places.

We still did better in the points than Frosty (Mark Winterbottom) even though he won Sunday's race. I just have to keep reminding myself that it's points that win championships not race wins.

We started the weekend well with good qualifying pace, but then we problems with the balance between the front and rear tyres on the hot track in the top 10 shootout.

It takes time to get the tyres up to temp and they just weren't right. I missed a couple of turns and knew I'd blown a chance at pole so I started drifting the car before my race engineer, Jeromy Moore, reminded me over the radio that we had to use those tyres in the race.

We qualified eighth, had a poor start and pitted early to avoid double-stacking in pit lane with teammate Jamie Whincup.That got us on to the soft tyres early, but we then had to conserve fuel to make sure we could finish the race with just one more pit stop.

As it turned out a safety car took away the fuel economy problem so we could get back to racing. At the end I was putting pressure on Garth Tander for third and could have scored a podium with a few more laps, but I was pretty happy with fourth considering our grid position.

We qualified in fourth on Sunday and I finally got a really good start, but by lap three we encountered a brake problem that I had to nurse all the way through the race. We use water to cool the brakes and the system failed which is a fair old handicap around a street circuit where the brakes get a lot of punishment.

It was just a 20c piece that failed, but that's racing. I suppose it was also a 20c part that caused the satellite blackout in the TV coverage just before the last two laps. I hear the coverage came back with Frosty doing victory donuts and they had to replay those final laps. 

What a shame; it was a thrilling finish to our racing chapter in Hamilton. As I've said before, we must have a round in New Zealand, but the future of a Kiwi race still seems to be up in the air.

Pukekohe is the fave, but it needs a lot of work to improve run-off for safety reasons and money is a contentious issue. The other option is Hampton Downs which also requires money to lengthen the track. The good news is that we are returning to Eastern Creek in August. I love that track and have had some success there.

I won my first event for Triple 8 there in 2005 and the last time we were at the Creek was in 2011 for a test day where we were the fastest, so I'm certainly looking forward to that round.