Winning my 100th Championship race, which happened in Darwin mid-June, was just amazing!
I am incredibly proud to be the first-ever to achieve that landmark and very grateful to the people I’ve raced for over the years that have enabled me to be in a position to win all those races.
But the funny thing is, though, that my immediate emotion at Darwin, as I crossed the finish line, was relief!
I’d been sitting on 99 wins for three months, then came within five laps of scoring the 100th victory in Perth in early May before being bumped back to second. So of course everywhere I went I was asked about it. It was the first question in every interview.
Did I feel the pressure of winning number 100?
Maybe not the pressure but I was very aware about everyone’s expectations, so I did kinda worry that it might never happen.
As I started the last lap of that race in Darwin in my Red Bull Commodore I really wanted the boys in the team to share the moment, so I held open the radio switch so they could ride that final lap with me.
Motor racing is an unusual sport in that it’s very much about one athlete, the driver, and yet it’s the ultimate team sport … you cannot compete at the top level without this enormous and ultra-professional organisation behind you.
So it was very emotional after I crossed the finish line in Darwin to score that 100th win.
I was overwhelmed with the warm wishes from everyone within the V8 Supercar fraternity, the trackside crowd at Darwin, all the fans on social media, the TV people … even team boss Roland Dane, not a man given to emotion, was genuinely moved by the moment!
And I knew nothing about V8 Supercars doing a special Gold 100 races helmet for me as a presentation, or about Holden’s great posters celebrating the wins, or the team’s special 100 Wins t-shirt … all of it was a complete surprise to me, and I was very humbled that they’d all gone to so much trouble …
There was a real irony to my 100th win too … as you know I race car number 888 … in the history of the Australian title the race I won in Darwin was the 888th Touring Car/V8 Supercar Championship race run …
How’s spooky is that?!
I’m not one for looking backwards but a few interesting stats emerged from the tally of 100 wins; for a start, 75 of them were won in Holdens and 25 won in Fords, all very neat!
But what I didn’t realise was that the Darwin win was my 48th for Triple Eight Race Engineering, better known as Red Bull Racing Australia, one less than the 49 I won for the Holden racing Team.
My other three wins were shared between two Ford teams, 00 Motorsport and Ford Performance Racing.
Before Darwin I spent a week or so away cleansing my brain, riding out from Birdsville to Alice Springs and then on to Finke for the famous Desert Race, as part of an ‘Adventure’ tour group hosted by Daryl Beattie.
Honda loaned me a bike and we were joined on the ride by Jack Perkins, a co-driver these days for HRT but also a TV presenter, and by his father Larry who brought along his own Unimog as a backup vehicle.
It was an amazing experience, Daryl was a great host and really had the ride sorted, and we all had a lot of fun throughout. It was the perfect way to chill out and relax mid season, before things got crazy again.
Watching the Finke Desert Race taught me something too … I’d always wanted to do that event on a motorbike but having seen those guys in action, I’ve changed my mind. It’s crazy rough and too dangerous for a non-expert like me.
Instead, I want to do it in a Buggy or Trophy Truck … any ideas?
By the way, Network Ten will screen a special doco on our Adventure soon, so that’ll give you a better idea about what it was like … look out for it on a screen near you!
There was no chance to reflect on the significance of the 100th win in Darwin as I was straight on a plane to Europe on the Monday morning, to attend the official Test Day for this year’s Spa 24 Hours race in Belgium.
I’m sharing an Australian-owned and run Lamborghini Gallaro with car owner Roger Largo and drivers David Russell and Steve Owen, all well experienced at racing these amazing GT machines.
I ran the Spa 24 Hours last year in a Ferrari but have switched makes this year, as Roger has a brand new latest-spec Gallardo built by Reiter Engineering, the gurus of all things Lamborghini racing.
The Test Day is just a single day, mid-week, but it’ll be important for all of us to get a feel for the car and dial ourselves back into the amazing Spa-Francorchamps track, arguably the best circuit in the world to race on.
The Spa race itself is late July, so I’ll have plenty of tales to tell you after that.
Stay safe, speak soon.