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The More Things Change….

Being the circuit commentator for Sydney Motorsport Park has a few advantages; I’ve met quite a few of Australia’s best or more well known racing drivers and, occasionally, get to work and be involved in some pretty high profile events, such as the Top Gear Festival. Saturday 15th February was a big day as it was the official test day for Australia’s top tier racing category, the V8 Supercars and I was the MC for the event.V8Supercars-Launch_SMP 15 Feb 2014

As is the wont of the weather, it was wet, wetter than standing underneath Niagara Falls, it felt like. It certainly didn’t stop the cars nor did it stop the crowd. Both built slowly; the crowd was considerable by midday and the cars times dropping rapidly per lap as the rain eased and the track dried. Of prime interest was the new entrant to the category, a revisiting of an oddly popular name for the sport: Volvo. The car is the S60, the team is Garry Rogers Motorsport, known for their left of field approach and fostering of young talent, in this case Kiwi born Scott McLaughlin, alongside experienced Swedish driver Robert Dahlgren. With GRM’s long term backer, Valvoline, prominently displayed on the sides, the cars looked the part but the party piece is the engine. A 60 degree vee configuration and of five litres capacity, it doesn’t have the same  bass note of the rest of the field, instead it’s a higher pitch, certainly not unpleasing to the ear. With work being done by the Swedish company’ performance arm, Polestar, it’s a return to Australian tin top racing after a break of over fifteen years. Here’s a look at the car: V8 Supercar sans warpaint

After the rain had stopped, times dropped and dropped quickly; at one stage there was a new quickest time every couple of laps before plateauing. To give an indication, laps were around one minute forty six seconds (1.46) to start off before bottoming out at one minute thirty!

Another highlight was the now traditional grid walk, with the cars lining up on the main straight and the crowd being able to walk around them.  This was kicked off by a stunning announcement from the larger than life Betty Klimenko, head of the Erebus Racing team. Rather than spending a fortune on a media driven team launch, Klimenko decided instead to donate what she estimated may have been spent to the Westmead Childrens Hospital. The sum? A tidy $50, 000 thank you….Volvo V8 Supercar Sydney

The Volvos performed well, perhaps better than expected; having said that, Dahlgren’s car was the only one to momentarily retire, with a power steering hose coming loose and spraying fluid onto the hot engine, laying down a sizeable smokescreen. Given the field, 25 cars in all, was spread by a mere 2.5 seconds at the end of the test day, it bodes well for the return of Volvo to Australian motorsport, with their first real test being at the fabled Clipsal 500, in Adelaide, covering the first weekend of March. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Welcome back, Volvo.


  1. Lewis says:

    This is awesome! Do you have a Twitter or anything that I can follow you on? Your job sounds amazing 🙂

    February 20th, 2014 at 3:01 am

  2. Dave Conole says:

    Lewis: I don’t use twitter that often but it’s @awheelthing. Mark, I try to at least four a month, thank you.

    February 21st, 2014 at 4:24 pm