Inside the Wildcard: Wet weather qualy
Day two on the Mountain: The rain came, the field was (mostly) set and the Caltex Young Guns met the people – here’s the inside story from Erin McCarthy on a big Friday at Mount Panorama.
Day 2 at Mount Panorama did not disappoint for our Caltex young stars, Matt Chahda and Jay Robotham.
The day started with a visit from Jack and Co’s boss Wade Death and his family, where his three boys got to enjoy watching some morning pit stop practices and having a sit in the number 118 Supercar.
Over the day, the duo had the opportunity to engage with fans over multiple signings sessions, and even got to grab a photo with iconic Holden mascot, Rory the lion.
The rookies had two practice sessions and qualifying and the rain sure did make it interesting. In practice 1, Chahda took to the track first under dry conditions. Over the 60-minute session, the duo shared the car and practiced two driver change pit-stops.
“We need to get more consistent with the driver changes, it’s almost different issues every time, but only little ones” Chahda outlined. “We definitely need to improve on the changes, I think we are rushing a bit too much, just trying to get the belts in we are struggling,” added Robotham on the issue. Chahda’s fastest lap completed in practice was on lap 16, coming in at a 2m06.710s
In practice 2, the heavens opened and heavy rain caused for a hectic session.
With 2 Red flags, the session ended up running 20 minutes over time and caused most pairings to leave the same driver in the car for the whole session. Chahda was the driver to start the session, and ended up completing his fasted lap time of 2m36.595s on lap 7 of the 12 laps he completed.
Due to the rain and continuous red flags, the team decided Robotham would not go out in the session, however he will have a long stint in the co-driver practice session tomorrow.
“laps in the wet here will be vital before the race,” he explained.
A spanner was thrown in the works when Chahda believed there was in issue with the gearbox, but nothing was found by mechanics.
“Just felt a bit of a shifter issue, it ‘jambled’ a little bit on me, but I think its alright,” Chahda described.
Ultimately, because Chahda was able to complete the laps in the wet conditions and become more comfortable in the car, he was chosen to be the driver qualifying for the Caltex team. “It’s fun driving in the wet … [but] god its hard to get the most out of it.”
The weather decided to give the fans at Bathurst a break from the rain, however the track was still under very wet conditions heading into Qualifying. Fog covered the top of the mountain, reducing visibility for all the drivers qualifying. Chahda headed out in the number 118 Holden, and managed to place the car 26th overall, with a lap time of 2m28.243s.
Conditions were difficult with the rain coming half way through the session, traffic and cars going off definitely played a part in all drivers and their ability to get a clean session.
Based on his pace, Chahda stated that; “We’re definitely not slow, that for sure, [but] there is always more in it, so its hard to say you’re totally happy, but I’m happy enough.”
When asked where pace could be lacking or whether changes overnight to the car were being considered, Chahda outlines that “It’s about getting your lap in, 90% of the lap would be perfect, but one little lock up and you have to run wide, it ruins the whole thing.”
“We’re certainly not off the pace [they] want to be.”
Post-Qualifying, Robotham added that, “Matt did a good job today in the wet, unfortunately I didn’t get a run in the wet, so hopefully it rains tomorrow.. or just stays dry.”
Chahda and Robotham ended their day visiting the paddock campground to help Supercars pit lane reporter Riana Crehan hand out some prizes to the sodden Bathurst punters.
With a lot of cheering, the crowd got behind the boys and welcomed them loudly, with the segment aired on the Friday Night Pit Lane Live show aired on Fox Sports and Seven.