Predicted hot weather conditions have not been a deterrent for three drivers on double duty in this weekend’s Australian Motor Racing Series opener at Winton Motor Raceway.
Cameron Shields and Harri Jones will compete in both the Australian Formula Ford Championship and Australian Formula 3 Premier Series races, while Chad Cotton will dovetail his TA2 Series commitments with the Miniature Race Car Series heats.
The thermometer reached a maximum of 31oC during today’s open practice day, with temperatures expected to rise to 32oC tomorrow, and 35oC on Sunday – but Shields, Jones and Cotton are all relishing the abundance of track time.
For 17-year-old Toowoomba driver Shields, and Sunshine Coast pilot Jones, the weekend provides an excellent opportunity to accumulate valuable miles in cars with different characteristics.
“Both cars have performed well today, although the track is continually evolving so it’s hard to get a gauge on where we sit in the pecking order,” Shields said at the end of practice.
“Both cars are very different in terms of their driving style – in the F3 car, you carry a lot more corner speed because of the extra downforce, where the Formula Ford moves around a lot more.
“The main challenge is the tight schedule between sessions, so a big thanks to Brett Francis Racing for preparing my Formula Ford and Gilmour Racing for running my F3 car – they’re making it a lot easier for me to be able to run in both series.”
18-year-old Jones, who has also raced a BMW M3 in the Group A/C historic category and won the Bathurst 12 Hour GT4 class in a Porsche Cayman last year, said today’s practice sessions haven’t been without hiccups.
“I forgot the Formula Ford didn’t have wings a couple of times, and speared off the track!” Jones said.
“Apart from that, it’s been a good test to see how I am adapting between different types of cars, and so far it’s gone pretty well.
“Having experience in a broad range of cars is definitely a benefit, because it opens up more pathways and opportunities for me in the future.”
Cotton is no stranger to the nation’s action track, having won the Winton 300 endurance race aboard his Future Racer in 2012 and amassed numerous Miniature Race Car victories at the venue. But he says stepping into the TA2 car, which he purchased last year, has been a new challenge.
“Getting out of the Future Racer into the TA2 car is like swapping from a Mini to a coach, they are just so far apart,” Cotton said.
“In the Future Racer, it’s all about corner speed and you can throw it over the kerbs; in the TA2 car, it’s about being smooth through the corners so you can maximise your exit speed and make use of all that power from the LS3 V8 engine.”
As part of his busy weekend schedule, Cotton is also managing the Miniature Race Car Series and says the AMRS has been a godsend for the category.
“It’s given our community a new lease of life,” he said.
“A lot of owners of old Aussie Racing Cars are bringing them out this year, because they can are attracted to the value and exposure, and we’re also going to see some Baby Grand cars on the track later in the year – they’re like miniature, motorcycle-engined NASCARs.”
The AMRS kicks off with qualifying and racing from 8:45am tomorrow.