As round two of the BNT V8s wrapped up this weekend at Pukekohe, driver Brad Lathrope left the track having improved his consistency and speed in the Dayle ITM #73 Ford Falcon super tourer.
Returning to the southern Auckland circuit that hosted round one last month, was a chance for Brad to get some more track time, racing in Class One, after his opening round mileage was cut short as he was unable to contest race three.
Over the one 16-lap race on Saturday and two more outings of the same length on Sunday, the Auckland-based 28-year-old was able to cement some solid lap times.
“We made some positive improvements and we are heading in the right direction with consistency. We are trying to get on top of a few little things which is always a positive sign that means we have more speed to find,” Brad says.
Practice day on Friday did not quite go to plan, with the Dayle ITM Ford missing session one, with a small brake issue. Brad’s team quickly remedied it and had the super tourer ready to go for session two.
“A lot of that first day is just me trying to get used to everything. We put a new master cylinder in the car and I needed to become familiar with the travel of the brake pedal and a few little things like that. We made some changes between practise two on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning qualifying, which set us in a good positive direction and made the car more settled.”
After an uneventful qualifying, Race One saw Brad and the Dayle ITM Ford get “a wicked start.”
“Then I had a bit of a hairy ride going down the front straight because I was on the inside of the circuit with half of my car on the grass, which isn’t really the best position to be in. It was a little bit exciting!”
He made it through a couple of tangles involving his fellow racers on the first few corners and started settling in and setting some consistent lap times. Brad was running third overall in Class One until about nine laps in, it all came unstuck.
“I overdrove and spun myself out trying to put a move on someone around turn 6. There was an opportunity, so I gave it a crack but I ran out of talent.”
Brad finished right down the pack.
“It was unfortunate for the speed we were showing and the consistency we had. It was just driver error – a few little things for myself to work on.”
Race two on Sunday started with an ominous noise in the back of the Dayle ITM Ford on the formation lap. Although Brad made it through the first few laps, the noise got progressively worse.
“About four laps in I recognised what the noise was – one you never want to hear – metal on metal and it was a damaged diff.”
It was rubbing on the back of the diff housing and not functioning properly, so rather than risking further damage, Brad just circulated to collect points. The goodwill of another team meant he was able to continue this afternoon.
“Barry from Hamilton Asphalt very kindly offered us their spare diff to get us going. My team did an absolutely wonderful job in two hours to get our diff out and get the new one in.
In Race Three Brad started in eighth position and although he initially stuck with the racers in front of him, a driver error meant he lost a few positions.
“We ended up coming home with an undamaged car for the weekend, which is great. The boys have done a stellar job. I can’t thank them enough for the effort and the positivity they have had throughout the weekend.”
“Massive thanks to all my sponsors – they’ve been absolutely incredible and it was great to see some of them at the track.”
The Brad Lathrope Racing team has got some work to do on the Dayle ITM Ford between now and round three at Highlands Motorsport Park next month and Brad promises they have a few tricks up their sleeves to implement for the first southern round.
“I definitely believe we are going to take leaps and bounds in the right direction and start catching up with the front-runners because we are not too far behind them at the moment.”
Round three of the BNT V8s Championship will be at the Highlands Motorsport Park near Cromwell on January 12-13.