‘Tis the season to be jolly and it’s also time for me to log off the keyboard for Speedcafe for the final time.
Sadly the Café will continue to roll on in 2011 without me, as increasing commitments in other areas of my world mean I won’t be able to continue Monday After-Noonan into next season.
But thank you all very much for the piles of emails, tweets and comments over the course of the season. I love hearing from racing fans – your passion and knowledge of our sport makes other so-called ‘sporting hardcore fans’ look ordinary!
Speedcafe sure has made its mark over the past 12 months and, under the direction of News Engineer Grant Rowley and his hard working team, I’m sure it will keep on firing on all eight cylinders – I’ve been quite proud to play a very tiny part in its formative stages.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a safe and exciting New Year – whatever you do and wherever you go, enjoy it and recharge the batteries.
There has been a lot happening in recent weeks so let’s dip into the email box for the last time this year.
Q: After Jonathon Webb’s brilliant maiden race win at Homebush, me and some guys on our forum have been discussing which other drivers have won a race in their rookie year? So far we have come up with Jonathon Webb (Homebush 2010) and Craig Baird (Phillip Island 2000). Marcos Ambrose won a round in his debut year (Hidden Valley 2002) but didn’t get a race win until the following year. Simon Wills won in 2002 (Queensland Raceway 500km) but Simon was only an enduro driver then and didn’t have his rookie year until 2003. So the question is, which V8 Supercar drivers have won a race in their rookie year? (Rob Healy, Selby, VIC)
A: G’day Rob, you pose a fine question. It really depends on how you categorise a ‘rookie year’. I guess the easiest way is by a driver having their first full season as a full-time driver in the ATCC/V8 Supercar Championship Series.
You’re on the money with most of your calls. Webb’s win also is the first win by a reigning Fujitsu Series champion in his first full-time year in the ‘main game’.
Yes, Craig Baird had a win in 2000 in what was his first full year in V8 Supercars (previously he had only done the endurance races and the like), whereas Simon Wills’ win in 2002 was actually in his first season as a full-timer. He had been driving for Briggs Motorsport before parting ways and then picked up the QLD 500 drive with SBR when Wayne Gardner was unavailable. So I guess you could say he did win in his rookie year!
If you limit it to the championship, Greg Murphy should be on your list – after all, he won his first ever championship race at Calder in 1997! And of course Craig Lowndes won a race in his rookie year in 1996 – but both drivers had previously done the endurance races, so it depends whether you want to get technical and count non-title races or not!
Q: Hi Aaron, do the teams receive monetary rewards from V8 Supercars, as they do in other motorsports, for winning races, especially in Courtney’s case for winning the championship? Do the drivers get to keep the prize monies from winning pole position, or is it distributed to the team? (Owen Timms, via email)
A: Hey Owen – yes the teams do receive monetary rewards, however there is a spread between the funds that are distributed. The majority of the payments are evenly split between all the teams as essentially ‘licence’ or appearance money, whereas a percentage of the pie is paid out as prizemoney and reward for performance.
Each team has a different deal for the pole position cheques – in some instances they go straight to the team, in some instances the driver has it in their contract that they receive the cash direct.
TeamVodafone made mention during the V8 Supercar Gala Awards dinner that the $20,000 from Jamie Whincup’s pole position award this year (as well as the $10,000 for winning Best Presented Team) would be going to their Christmas party at the end of the season – so that sounds like a good party to me!
Q: Aaron, tell me – why can James Courtney take the #1 away to HRT when he won it with Jim Beam Racing? Surely if a driver leaves the team he won the title with, then the number should not be used? (Kelly Heath, via email)
A: Kelly, it’s a driver’s title so the driver has earned the number and the right to take it with them wherever they go for the next season. I guess under your argument, a TeamVodafone driver should have #1 given that team won the Team’s Championship! But yes, the driver can take #1 with him wherever he goes.
It must also be pointed out that a champion doesn’t have to use #1. They have the right to use it but should they have a number they want to stick with, by all means they can.
As Dick Johnson pointed out last week, he won the title five times but stuck with #17 and never used the #1! Jamie Whincup is going to have to get used to running with #88 on his window again too …
Q: I saw your comments on V8Xtra on the weekend and noticed you sound like you have changed your tune about the Chase for the Championship concept – why so? (Elliott Boxer, via email)
A: Elliott, I guess I have a little. I am still a big fan of the concept, but the championship finale we saw in Sydney was still just as riveting without it.
My leaning towards the concept just would bring a few more contenders into the title fight in the final third of the year and would just increase the story angles we have as a category in the mid-part of the season.
The more story angles we have the better – but in 2010 our championship played out a thrilling finale and I’m happy with that for sure! The concept has great merit but I think there are more important elements of V8 Supercar racing that we should focus on first before we worry about this one.