James Faulkner 2020-2021


Friday morning in Palmerston North, its an early start as we head off to the track, we meet with Graham Wilson, who is helping us out this weekend. The car is set up and adjusted throughout the day to try to suit my driving. P&S autocentre have made the car feel a bit quicker now, with new spark plugs, exhaust and intake hose. I managed to get a few good laps following Logan Spaans and Neville Carpenter, seeing where they brake and how they turn.

Saturday was another pretty early morning, having to be there by 8:30 for the novice drivers briefing and then the main briefing. I managed to get a few good laps during qualifying however it seems like I will need to be faster to be competitive. In Race 1 I had a small blat with John Thompson until his engine issues got the better of him. For the rest of the race I was pretty much by myself at the back trying to do better clean lap times.

Onto Sunday and after a good night sleep and lay in, the first race being at 11am, I’m ready to go! On the track, I’m lined up in position, the lights go out, and the car launches backwards! I had put it in “R” which apparently isn’t for “race mode”. Thankfully John T had seen my lights on and managed to swerve around me. I spent most of the race trying to catch up but being mostly unsuccessful, struggling with severe understeer throughout. At this point I was feeling pretty depressed with my results for the weekend.

We made some alterations to the car to try and prevent the understeer for the upcoming handicap race. I started the race in pole position, however John T had an amazing launch off the line and had 2 car lengths on me by the first corner. Sadly (for John) he spun out on one of the hairpins so I had a clear track ahead and behind as far as I could see. Now I just had to hold them off!! 7 laps go by and Shane Dias has caught up, he manages to go around me on the inside of corner 1 after my brake pedal sunk slightly more than usual and got me off guard. Tom Newton is right behind me now as well. I managed to hold him off for most of the lap but he got a better drive out of the last corner and managed to beat me by 0.003 seconds ( as dad said “The thickness of the windshield”)

I was extremely happy with my 3rd place finish – what a great way to end the weekend of racing. Certainly some highs and lows over the last few days and definitely room for improvement.
Thanks to all those there, that have given advice and time and just come up to say hi.
Congratulations to all the winners. Many thanks to P&S Autocentre, Graham Wilson, Mum and Dad, and everyone who came to watch.

Photo Credit: Matt Smith

Round 1 Wrap-Up

My goals for the weekend were simple; make some new friends, don’t hit anybody and make it back in one piece. I have since decided that a wheel isn’t a “piece” of a car, therefore I achieved all my goals!

The weekend started on Friday morning, which isn’t technically the weekend but it sure felt like it. Dad and I picked up the scholarship car from P&S Autocentre clean and ready to be thrashed, cheers to Peter and Graham Ball. We made our way to the track for the practice day. There we met Graham Wilson who had kindly volunteered to be my coach and advisor until I’m all sorted out. We then proceeded to do test runs, slowly adjusting the suspension and tire pressures. We did have one tire come loose on a test run (foreshadowing) but other than that we were having a great time, I was managing to drop my lap times with every attempt. We made our way through scrutineering easy peasy, and with that we headed off to get a good night sleep.

Saturday morning, we head out for qualifying. For the majority of the time I followed Shane Diaz in 57, trying to copy his lines. Until he decided to put his foot down and disappear, I tried to do the same but it wasn’t quite as impressive. Near the end I let Tom Newton (3) pass so that he could get some good laps without my big bum in the way. My qualifying time was my best lap yet putting me in position 17 next to Tom.

In the Afternoon we had our first race, and to answer everyone’s question; I wasn’t nervous until I was lined up in the grid. I took off with an average start but eventually found my way into last with the help of some missed shifts and impressive drifts. At this point I figured that I was going to end up last and since it was our first race of the season I figured it might as well be the new guy that ends in the back. But then, to my rescue came Shane Geddes’ (747) lower ball joint, who had volunteered to let me past. I ended the race in 18th.

“Jesus, is it 7 already?!” Daylight savings means most of us had an earlier morning than usual. We get to the track, still half asleep but the smell of fuel soon wakes us up. Just as the day gets going and so does the rain, LOTS of rain. Things get going again and soon it’s time for the second race. This time I got an amazing launch, using my rally driver skills, and manage to get ahead of the row in front. I ended up having a great race with Grant Metson (320) and just as I got past, my left front wheel has other ideas. Ending the race with a DNF after all-but-losing the wheel. Oh well, we’ll get em next time.

Last race of the weekend and I’m in position 2 on the grid?! They must think I’m really good or something, oh wait, it’s a handicapped start. This time I messed up the launch, a little confused that the lights weren’t going and then there’s the flag! I fight with my new nemesis, Grant, again over 4th. Just as I’m about to make my move I’ve been boxed in by the following group. The rest of the race was basically being pushed off line and watching the pro’s go past. Grant Metson and Logan Spaans clearly forgot they were racing and decided to do some dancing on ice around the sweeper. I ended the race in 16th, I seem to slowly be getting better and better results. You’ll see me at the front soon.

Of course many thanks to; P&S for sorting the car and helping out, John and Raewyn for helping me with all my scholarship needs, Graham Wilson for all his assistance and guidance, and lastly Dad for waking me up way too early.

Photo Credits: Matt Smith