Walsh on track for Supercars
IPSWICH racer Ash Walsh has proved he is ready to make the progression from Formula Ford star to V8 Supercar professional.
Walsh performed admirably as one on three drivers contesting the Bathurst 12-hour race last Saturday in a HSV Astra VRX for Miles Racing Team.
Walsh and team mates Chaz Mostert and Gerard McLeod were running first in their E Class when struck down with mechanical problems.
But winning wasn’t the main objective with the team entered to give rookie drivers Walsh and Mostert some experience ahead of the Fujitsu V8 Supercar series they will contest this year.
The race was quinellaed by a pair of Audi R8 LMS GT3s, with Germans Marc Basseng and Christopher Mies and Chinese driver Darryl O’Young, who covered 292 laps in the 12 hours, pipping Aussie trio Craig Lowndes, Mark Eddy and Warren Luff
The Miles Racing team finished 17th of 26 teams, completing 226 laps.
“I think for me it was a really good weekend,” Walsh said.
“Unfortunately we had a couple of mechanical issues but that happens ... it’s a 12-hour race.”
The Miles Racing trio had established a five-lap lead over its nearest Class E rivals and was top three among all the production cars when a camshaft angle sensor overheated, forcing them to pit for repairs.
They lost 18 laps while the problem was fixed.
“We started to catch up again and were really close to second (in our class) when a turbo hose broke off,” Yamato’s Walsh said.
“After that is was pretty much day over.”
Walsh achieved his primary objective of getting laps under his belt, not crashing and impressing the team bosses.
Walsh did about 85 laps in two stints behind the wheel, dwarfing any previous race he has participated in.
It was a good test of his endurance driving abilities and he came through with flying colours.
His performance was even more impressive given he completed the race with a painful bulging disc in his lower back.
“I was in a lot of pain in my first stint,” he said.
“I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do a second one.
“During practice we only did two or three laps at a time so after my first stint in the race, I was struggling big time.
“I felt it when I got out of the car.
“With about 10 laps to go, I just wanted to get out.
“I was not having fun.”
But having made it halfway, Walsh was determined to complete the task and, after a handful of painkillers, he managed to get through his second stint behind the wheel.
“I did what I came to do,” he said.
“Just laps for later in the year.
“Hopefully I impressed a few people.”
Walsh also proved he has the mental application required at the top.
“In endurance races like the 12-hour, you don’t drive as hard as you would in a sprint race,” he said.
“You’re still driving at 95 percent but you’re also trying to look after the tyres.
“It is mentally draining.”
Not that he was ever affected by self-doubt.
“I think it is all going according to plan,” he said.
“It is going to be a very tough year.
“I’m not underestimating it.”
Walsh will head to Eastern Creek Raceway near Sydney in three weeks time for testing in the V8 Supercar he will contest the 2011 Fujitsu series in.