Competing in Australia's fastest racing series - Formula 4000

Eastern Creek - July 31st to August 1st 2004

So it all came down to this. The final meeting of the year: once more at Eastern Creek. The weather was fine and this is certainly one of my favourite tracks. When I get the in-car video cut down you'll be able to see why. We had an unprecedented third Silver Star within reach but some fierce opposition to overcome.

Friday Practice 1
Not a great start. Twice during the session the car dropped onto five cylinders and we had to reattach one of the spark plug leads. This is a new problem but we carry spares so it was ok. The track surface was green but the dry weather in Sydney kept it in better condition than might be expected. We went through the process of lowering the ride height to minimum so that it was only just touching over the bump at turn 1. The huge bump on the way down the hill after turn 3 is worse than ever, so I decided to stay over to the right for the entire weekend as the last thing we needed was a driveline breakage with a narrow 8 point lead. We had made some changes inside the cockpit of the car and I was amazed at the difference. I'd never felt the fire extinguisher moving before but after remounting it properly the lack of vibration in the car was instantly recognizable. During one of our stops to change the settings on the car a large oil leak was discovered. It looked like it was leaking onto the rear tyre so we decided to end the session and work on the problem.
Friday Practice 2
This was a great session as the track temperature was very high and we managed to get the tyre pressures exactly right. The car was performing extremely well and we put down our best ever time at the track and there wasn't even much rubber down yet. I had a slight problem with the car dropping out of third gear between turns 4 and 5 but could hold it in OK. This was a bit of a surprise as we had quite a fresh set of internals in the box. I would have liked to get rid of a little of the understeer but we haven't ever successfully managed to do that at this track whilst maintaining the set-up that makes the car flow on the fast parts of the track. During Friday night we would strip the gearbox and reset it using new selector fingers which cured the problem of it falling out of gear during direction changes with no drive load.
Saturday Practice
After a couple of laps to run in the new gearbox components, we tested some new aerodynamic parts designed to improve the maximum speed on the car. These parts were made for us by CL Composites in Adelaide and made a small, but valuable improvement in top speed. There was no appreciable change in the high-speed balance of the car so we were very pleased. We finished with a time in the top six but I felt we could still achieve more in qualifying.

My first few laps were spoilt as I couldn't find a clean piece of track and kept catching people. On the fourth lap I got a clean run and put in a great first half lap when the red flags came out. Talk about annoyed! Ty Hanger had an excursion in his three-wheeled Reynard that luckily hadn't done too much damage. You wouldn't want to loose a wheel through turn 1 here. We are going flat through the corner at 252km/hr and if something comes off you won't stop till you get to New Zealand or that dirty great concrete wall. When the session restarted I messed up quite a few laps and it was starting to get embarrassing as I never got a whole lap clean. Just as the team manager started to "encourage me" over the radio, I got it all together and drove a great lap of 87.3 seconds. From now on the catchphrase for Peters Racing is "Move your bloomin arse!" as it certainly seemed to have the desired effect. This time placed us fourth on the grid - our most successful qualifying session ever. The only bad part of the whole deal is that our arch-enemy (only joking Terry) managed to do even better and was third. Still it was great to have two Silver Star competitor's owning the second row of the grid.

After the session a faulty universal joint was discovered and there was a pretty long session to get it out and to borrow the required parts to fix it. These were supplied by the Arlec/Carrig team (thanks guys!) and again highlights the great camaraderie in this series.

Steve and Garrett went to the track very early on Sunday morning and managed to get the car completed by the warm-up session - an excellent result.

Sunday Warm-up
Four gentle laps just to bed in the drive-shafts and joints so we could check the bolts and clean off the tyres ready for the day. I've seen drivers write their cars off in warm-up so unless we have some real changes to test I always take it easy.
Race 1
Naturally when you get a really great grid spot on the clean side of the track you make a really bad start! I did. Mark West on the other hand didn't & passed me quite easily on the way to turn 1. After the tyres warmed up I worked my way up to him again, applied some pressure and was rewarded when he spun on the exit of turn 2. Back up to fourth where I ought to have been. On lap 9 I had a spin which allowed Ty and Stephen past while I was gathering it up off the grass. Something seemed wrong with the engine and with the radio malfunctioning, I spent a couple of laps figuring out that the exhaust had broken. I couldn't see it on the track so I had to take it cautiously as a broken pipe can go through a radiator really easily as well as setting fire to the car. While I was doing that Mark West passed me again and I trailed home a disappointed 7th. Not only had we started next to our rival and let him get away but the car was damaged too. Our points lead was down to 3 and it was all going to depend on the last race of the year.
Race 2

Got as good a start as you can hope for on the dirty side of the track. Ty Hanger didn't get away cleanly and Terry had to pass him on the outside. I managed to get the inside line through turn 1, in 5th place with a big gaggle of cars ahead and Terry close behind. I was looking forward to a close race with Terry but at the end of the first lap he pulled off with some sort of malfunction and we were given a little breathing space (and the championship). Ty Hanger passed me and joined the scrap ahead and I couldn't match his speed through the slow corners. I sized up Stephen Borness and made a fast pass on the outside, thanks to some Cantech horsepower, as Stephen was guarding the inside line.

I worked my way up to Mark again and realised that we had an aero advantage through turn 1. So on the next lap I hung back to get a good run and ran up the inside on the entrance to turn 2 without trouble (it's great to race with a clean racer like Mark) and although the car got really loose at the apex I managed to scrabble out of the corner before Mark took the place back. From there it was just a matter of lapping a few other cars and keeping on the black stuff till the end. We finished a creditable fourth.

We won our third Silver Star in 6 years in this series, the first team ever to win three. If that wasn't enough we also finished fourth in the Gold Star series too, so we are getting closer to our ultimate goal each year. Our competitors pushed us very hard this year, and we have had to race faster & bolder than before to meet the challenge.
Thanks to Steve Davis, Garrett Gerhardt, Gil Gerhardt, Dru Lydon, Barbara Gerhardt, Rebecca Peters and Peter Black

Many people have contributed this year to make this possible. This is a probably an incomplete list so my humble apologies if I've left anyone out.
Doug Veale
Steve Davis
Garrett Gerhardt
Pete Duldig
Dru Lydon
Peter Black
Kevin Hill
John Mahoney
Kreston Tognolini
Gil Gerhardt
Barbara Gerhardt
Fiona Sharp
Fiona Millett
Rebecca Peters
Bruce Linn
Matthew Moyle-Croft
Marshall Flanagan

Our sponsors Cantech Precision Engineering, EDS, Shaine Osten at Snap On and Hothouse Advertising have made our season possible and set us up to achieve even greater things next year as the focus shifts to F4000 in China.

It is also a good time to acknowledge that each year builds on the last and there are many more people over the years that have made it possible to get this far. Thanks to you all. I hope you all feel a sense of pride in the team's achievements.

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Formula 4000
Bathurst TV commercial 2005
Eastern Creek 2004
Oran Park 2004
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Eastern Creek 2002
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