Michael Patrizi’s start/stop V8 Supercars career is ticking along relatively strongly in 2012.
After doing all of his motor racing apprenticeships in various overseas open wheel formulas, the Gold Coast-based West Australian first started in V8s in 2008, driving a car prepared by Ford Performance Racing. He switched to Paul Cruickshank’s team in 2009, but neither of those seasons went to plan – dogged by incidents and a general lack of competitiveness.
In 2010, Patrizi spent the year on the sidelines before taking on Carrera Cup in 2011 where he scored his first race win on Australian soil.
This year, he returned to V8 Supercars with Tekno Autosports, and has been one of the surprise performers. In the past eight races, he has qualified inside the top 10 five times and finished there three times. He currently sits 19th and hasn’t been outside the top 20 all year.
For a guy that was written off by some as a “waste of a seat,” Patrizi is traveling quite well.
Speedcafe.com’s Grant Rowley spoke with Patrizi about this year, next year and proving people wrong.
SPEEDCAFE: You’ve had a couple of very strong qualifying and race results this year. Overall consistency has probably alluded you, but are you pleased with the form that you’ve had on occasions?
MICHAEL PATRIZI: I am pleased. I’ve actually been happy with the consistency. I think I’ve qualified inside the top 10 five times since Perth. Speedwise, you can’t get much more consistent than that.
From a racing point of view, we’ve had a few set backs with a few penalties. Apart from them, a mistake at Phillip Island, and an engine related problem at Hamilton, we could be running as high as 12th in the championship.
I don’t think it’s that our consistency is bad – it’s just that we’ve been the victim of a few circumstances of my own, and that’s what happens in motorsport.
SPEEDCAFE: This is your third full-time year in V8s. There was chat pre-season by some who suggested that you would be uncompetitive. Do you feel like you’ve proved some of those pundits wrong?
PATRIZI: Grant, you know me. I’ve never been phased about what other people think. I know that the people who know best know that I’m capable of doing a very good job in a V8 Supercar. Most comments like that come from fellow competitors who do their best to stop people who haven’t been brought up in the local motorsport system. It’s just a mentality a lot of the guys have here.
It really doesn’t phase me, because I have my eye on one trophy, and hopefully in the next three years I’ll have my hands on it.
SPEEDCAFE: Given some of your results, have your expectations changed, and where do they sit for the next few years?
PATRIZI: I’m always very hard on myself. You have to be competitive, and you have to have as much self-confidence in your own ability as possible, otherwise you won’t be a race driver. It’s a very demanding sport.
So in terms of expectations, they haven’t changed, because they’ve always been to win or do the best I possibly can.
I’ve been inside the top 10 more often this year, and it’s because I have a great team around me in Tekno Autosports. They are a great bunch of guys and my engineer is very good. To be fair to myself, and a lot of people don’t realise this, but this is the first year that I’ve had the same engineer the entire year. In my first two years, I never had a full-time engineer. My first guy was a shock (absorber) guy. The next guy was good, but he left after three or four races. Then I had a data engineer who had to do the data on the other car too, and he was only part-time!
With a good, regular engineer in place, there should be no reason why I shouldn’t be in or around the top 10 for the rest of the season. Although I would like to get myself a podium at some point, if all the stars align.
SPEEDCAFE: You have a contract to drive with Tekno for this year, plus an option for 2013. How important is it for you to stay with Tekno for a second year?
PATRIZI: My 100 percent focus is to stay here for next year. They’ve given me this great opportunity to come back in the sport, and they believe in my ability. I certainly don’t think my results this year have done me any harm. As a team, we’re new and we’re building together. There’s been mistakes, but that’s what happens.
I’m sure, like I’ve said a few times this year, when we put it together, we’ll win races and be in with a shot of winning the championship.
But like I say, for next year, my sole focus is to remain at Tekno, and they know my position on this. We’ll wait and see what happens, but I hope this time next year I’m announcing that I’m staying for a third year! I believe they are going places and I don’t want to be anywhere else.
SPEEDCAFE: When would you like to have something wrapped up? Is the ball in their court?
PATRIZI: I’m sure that Tekno will make a decision on their future in their own time. Obviously, I would like it earlier than later, but at the end of the day, I know where I stand.
Right now, I’m focusing on driving the car, and I’m sure if the results keep coming, I’ll be in a good position.
SPEEDCAFE: And tell us about how your karting team is going?
PATRIZI: Patrizicorse is going well. We’ve been leading the KZ championship up until the last round at Ipswich where our driver Kyle Ensby had a few mechanical problems. He won the first two rounds.
We’re heading to Eastern Creek this weekend, which will be the first round I’ve been able to go to since the first round. We’re trialling some new engines, a new brand in Australia (BMB), so we’ll see how this next direction goes.
The team is going really well, and we have some very, very exciting news coming up in a few weeks, and I think it’s really showing the stepping stones that we’ve created with Patrzizicorse and what the possibilities are.