Impressive V8 Ute weekend for Lodge Jnr
By virtue of winning the inaugural Aussie Driver Search competition recently, John Lodge Jnr had the experience of a lifetime over the weekend, making his circuit racing debut in the V8 Ute Racing Series season finale at the Newcastle 500 event, where he exceeded even his own expectations.
While he has much more experience racing on dirt in the Australian speedway scene, Lodge Jnr, a multiple Australian and State Title holder in Street Stockers, proved his versatility throughout the weekend, eventually closing his weekend with what was a pleasing 11th-place result.
Battling his nerves on Friday, Lodge Jnr certainly made an impression on the Aussie Driver Search team from the outset, impressively managing to handle the hot conditions and timing 10th fastest lap in practice.
After making a few changes to the car’s setup prior to qualifying, Lodge Jnr admittedly made some small driver errors in the opening stages, while still attempting to familiarise himself with the car and the circuit; however, he continued to gain speed with each passing lap, ultimately qualifying 15th when the session was cut short to just five laps.
Coming into his own with each stint in the car, the Kurri Kurri, NSW-based driver was pleased with his performance in his opening race on Saturday. Undergoing his first ever standing start, Lodge Jnr gained added confidence as the laps wore on, catching the cars in front and going on to place 13th.
Sunday morning delivered Lodge Jnr with a fresh bout of nerves as he prepared to contest race two, where he enjoyed a fantastic start, picking up a handful of spots and making his way up to 12th from 15th, before experiencing a differential failure on the main straight.
With the team having changed the differential just in time for his third and final race, Lodge Jnr knew he would need to give it everything he had, while also not taking too many risks, in order to achieve another solid result and close his weekend on a high.
Starting out of grid position 19, Lodge Jnr managed to put his nerves behind him and set about the task at hand, pulling off numerous daring passing moves during the 10-lap race, which even impressed his more experienced rivals, eventually making his way up to an 11th-place finish.
“That last race absolutely made the whole weekend for me,” expressed the 28-year-old racer.
“As soon as I was in the car, I just put myself in the zone and focused on what I needed to do and by the last few laps, I’d gained a lot more confidence and it all felt very natural to me.”
While he admittedly couldn’t expect too much from himself in his first ever taste of circuit racing in front of some 192,000 fans, Lodge Jnr was happy with what he was able to achieve and gives much credit to his local supporters for making it a possibility for him.
“I can’t thank Kyle, Luke, Aaron, Luke and Tom from the Aussie Driver Search team enough for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity; the whole weekend was a career highlight for me and is definitely something that I won’t forget in a hurry,” added Lodge Jnr.
“I also have to say a huge thanks to all of my sponsors, along with my family and friends, for continuing to support me and for helping me to achieve this amazing experience.”
Following his V8 Ute debut, which he thoroughly enjoyed, Lodge Jnr may potentially pursue a career in circuit racing in the future.
Lodge Jnr would like to thank the following sponsors for their support during the Newcastle 500 event: Highway Ford Maitland, Walton Mining Services, John Lodge Water Cartage, Hotel Denman – Abermain, Gibbo’s Auto Electrics, Glendale Warehouse, Elekmark Industries, Australian National Street Machine Assoc., Concrete Blonde Hair Studios, Blokes Advice, Terry Caslick Excavations, Atlantic Oil, Farrelly Mechanical Repairs, Singleton Exhaust, Scorpion Racewear, Caves Beach Automotive & Dyno, Branxton Greta Smash Repairs, Weston Machine Shop and Tony Stewart Coalfield Signs.
Special thanks must go to his parents John Snr and Joanne, his fiancée Brittany and their baby girl Georgia, and the rest of his family.
To find out more about Lodge Jnr and his team, LIKE them on Facebook by searching John Lodge Water Cartage Racing.