James Faulkner 2020-2021

Round 5 WRAP-UP
 
Round 5 – E30 SCHOLARSHIP WRAP-UP – JAMES FAULKNER
Friday was great for practice, I used all of the sessions throughout the day. I got to follow Shane D for one of the laps and he showed me some completely different lines to what I was taking, but they seemed to be faster so I used them for the rest of the weekend. Best I managed on Friday was a 1.24.2 which was just as good as my best time from the start of the season.

Saturday qualifying, I found some free space and managed to set my best time so far 1.23.2. I was amazed that my times could increase overnight. This started me off in P14. I got a good launch and managed to get myself on the inside of corner 1. I check my side mirror to make sure no one is coming up the inside, just to see about 3 cars all facing different directions with very little traction. Needless to say the race was quickly restarted, sadly with a few less people. Second launch wasn’t as good as the first and I soon found myself in last place. I managed to pass a few cars over the next lap or so only to find a large gap to the group ahead. So I put my foot down and to my surprise I managed to catch up over the next two laps and even fought up a few more positions. I ended the race back in 14th which wasn’t bad considering the fall to 18th.

Luckily Saturday had 2 races which made it quite an interesting day. The second race started and I’m in 14th again. I got quite a good start and got on the inside of corner 1 again. I managed to build up some positions before the safety car came out. We all lined up for the next two laps until there was only one lap left. It was very much a one lap sprint at the end, I had to try quite hard just to stop Dion C making it past me. I felt so bad for John T who was having a great race and making up many positions only to go off track on the last lap and lose all the positions he had made. I finished in 11th which is my best result so far for any scratch race.

Straight into the action for Sunday, we were the third group out on the track so it was still a bit cold. This was our first time doing a handicap start at Hampton without a roll up start, I actually preferred it without the roll up which was good news for me. I started in grid position 9 which put me 20 seconds back thanks to my fast catch up laps in the first race (handicap start positions are decided on your best lap time of the weekend). I managed to make quite a few laps keeping my position slowly watching the swamp of people catching up to me (the 25 second group had 9 people in it!). Of course I eventually got caught and swallowed by the group and spat out the other side. I caught up to Dion C on the last lap and drag raced him up the hill to the chequered flag. It was quite nerve racking as I was only going about 1 km/h faster than him up the hill but I managed to beat him by 0.022 seconds, an amazing finish. Overall I would have to say that this was my best racing weekend so far!

Many thanks to P&S Autocentre for all the help with the car. Thanks to the organisers and marshals and everyone who came out to watch.

📸 Matt Smith
 
Round 4.2 WRAP-UP

It was great to see so many people at the event considering that it was rescheduled (Sunday 28th February cancelled due to COVID lock down restrictions) and a very interesting start to the day – having no practice or qualifying. So… straight into the action!.
Race 1 – I get a decent start for the first race but forget which gear to be in around corner 3 and mess it up, ending the straight quite far back from the other cars. I managed to make up time by drafting down the straights which were very effective at Pukekohe. I could definitely tell the difference between the 4s and 6s down the end of the back straight. Dion C gave me a love tap out of the hairpin, he was clearly fizzing that I had absolutely smoked him in the drag down the back! The car sounded different due to the fact my exhaust was shortened, not too much of a problem! Ended the race with a good group of four which was great fun, finished in 12th which I’m happy with.
Next race was a handicap roll up start which I took full advantage of and managed to take about 3 positions by the end of corner 1. Then I got pushed very wide on corner 3 which ruined my run up for the straight and lost the spots I’d gained. Usual story for handicap races, slowly losing positions. This race was full of action, Shane D and Dion C collided, knocking Dion out of the race then about a lap later I watched Arran C lose his lower ball joint on the same corner and end up in the wall. The rest of the race is spent following the safety car.
On Sunday I was a flag marshal for the Auckland Car Club event at Pukekohe. It was a great experience learning how to talk on the radio, what to do in a safety car and red flag situation. I was quite lucky to be placed on point 13 with Chris. This position looks over the last 2 corners of the track and it was very interesting watching all the different lines people take around the section and how it sets them up for the front straight. Very nice to see some familiar faces (and cars). Great to learn a new skill while spending the day at the track. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the time and passion for watching cars.
Once again many thanks to P&S Autocentre for the quick turnaround on getting the car in good nick. Thanks also to the event organisers and the marshals.
Photo Credit: Matt Smith

ROUND 4 WRAP-UP (Day One)


Well I can say for sure that the weekend didn’t go to plan. Dad and I picked up the car on Friday morning and headed off to Puke. It was great to see a few extra people on the practice day than usual. Practice was really interesting as all of the BMW groups were together, this meant that there were some cars on track with us that were much quicker. This is a new experience for me, Mike Kennedy gave me some good advice, “Just drive your line and let them pass safely.” In the next session I noticed a bit of suspension knock, luckily it was just a minor issue that wouldn’t affect driving. Sadly in the next session Grant R had a lower ball joint break and sent him into the wall, there was a lot of damage to the car but it was good to see that Grant managed to walk away in good nick. The day continued and I managed to get down to a 1.14.5 which would be my lap time for the weekend. Overall I was really happy with my performance on the practice day and was very confident for my upcoming races.
Saturday morning started with a slightly confusing drivers briefing but other than that it was very good. I couldn’t quite do as well as Friday for my qualifying, with a time of 1.15.2, which put me in P10 (which I’m extremely happy with). This meant I was right next to Tom N, who seems to be my starting neighbour quite a lot. On start I managed to pull ahead of Tom and get the inside line into corner 1. From then on I realised how important drafting is on a track like Pukekohe and in identical cars. For quite a few laps I was following Anthony T. I always find it interesting to follow someone so closely on the track to be able to see and learn from what they are doing. I managed to fight my way up to 7th place very briefly before losing it on the exit of the hairpin and giving Marco G a small tap on his rear bumper.
After this I lost quite a few positions and fell back to 16th place. I spent the rest of the race trying to avoid any incidents while making up places, I crossed the finish line in 13th which I’m still happy with considering all that happened. I went and apologized to Marco as soon as I could but he didn’t seem too bothered by it but I still felt a bit bad though. Even though “rubbing is racing”, I’d still rather keep cars in good nick and owners happy.
Then Saturday night and its announced that we are heading into level 3 (again). As soon as we heard the news from the club we shot over to the track to collect the car and help out in whatever way possible. It was great to see how everyone could work together and how efficient they were. Unfortunately no one took me up on my kind and well intentioned offer to drive their cars home for them. Hopefully we see everyone on the rescheduled continuation of the event.
Many thanks to P&S Autocentre for taking care of the car and helping out with my knocking suspension. Thanks to all the organisers of the event for their great work considering all that was against them. Lastly, thanks to everyone for the good advice and nice words.
Photo Credit: Matt Smith
 
ROUND 3 WRAP-UP
 
Hampton Downs International track – this is a new one for me. It’s nice to have the extra challenge of learning a new track/ section and what a fabulous day. That being said most of Friday was spent learning the new section of track, racing lines and braking points as well as checking out other lines to see how grippy they are.
With welcome advice from Casey and Shane G, we made some adjustments to the suspension and it made a hell of a difference (thank you both). Almost all of the understeer that I had been battling in previous events had gone.

On Saturday morning I got some free space in qualifying and set my best lap time, up to that point in time. Near the end of qualifying I noticed that the front tyres were starting to go. Having weighed in at 1175kg on the dot, we also had to make sure we added more fuel for next time.

I started the first race in P14 and got a decent launch but not enough to get in front of anyone. I made it halfway around corner one before Shane G forgot to turn and cut me off (I later found out that his gearbox had enough for the day). This left me a bit behind by corner two, I had just managed to rejoin the group when Tom N and Logan S collided – bringing out the pace car.
This was the first time that I’ve been on track with a pace car and for me it was a bonus, meaning I could catch up.
The rest of this race I spent battling with Jarrod and it was some of the most fun I’ve had on the track. Every time one of us got in front we would make a mistake or the other would drive better and claim the spot – fantastic fun! I just managed to pass Jarrod on the final straight and finished the race in 14th.

Before the next race, we changed around some tyres as the left front had taken a beating and was worn down to the canvas. The second race wasn’t quite so spectacular but I felt good finishing – considering all of the “whoopsies” that everyone else was doing. I ended the race in 12th position which is technically a gain in position but I never had the intense battle with another driver which I had enjoyed so much with Jarrod in the previous race.

The Sunday race was a handicap start and for the first time I wasn’t in the front row! A great achievement for me, however since I had no experience with roll up starts I wasn’t quite going the right speed and John T managed to get ahead of me around the outside of corner one and held this position for most of the race. I almost managed to get past in corner two but went too wide on the exit and ended up putting the back half in the sand. Tom N got past me soon after. Again I almost got the position back but a yellow flag ruined my attack. I spent the rest of the race slowly losing positions while trying to keep my elbows out a bit and managed to finish 13th. Not amazing but I was happy with it considering I got to have a few battles along the way.

Overall a great weekend, Many thanks to all the organisers, P&S Autocentre for organising the car and everyone who could return my smile.
Photo Credit: Matt Smith
 
 
 

ROUND 2 WRAP-UP 

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