The Australian rookies have had their first taste of a Stadium Super Truck in an exclusive test session before tomorrow’s opening day of the Castrol Gold Coast 600 at Surfers Paradise.
Paul Morris, Brett Thomas and Greg Gartner bolted themselves in for some valuable practice at Morris’ Performance Driving Centre at Norwell on the Gold Coast.
The three will join Matt Mingay and US-born, but Gold Coast-raised racer, Matt Brabham to form the Australian contingent.
The US team will be headed by series’ creator Robby Gordon and will include Burt Jenner, Bill ‘The Thrill’ Hyne, Keegan Kincaid, Scotty Steele and Sheldon Creed – who came to a spectacular finish at the Clipsal 500 in March – rolling over the start finish line.
Morris had been with a ride with Mingay in his own truck in a recent promotion in Sydney, but now has had the opportunity to drive ‘the real deal’ – with Supercheap Auto on board his truck for the two event visit.
“I feel a bit better now I have had the chance to actually drive one,” said Morris.
“To be honest they are a lot like driving a V8 Supercar in the wet.
“You really need to get a good feel for them and understand where the sweet spot is for applying the power.
“When you are watching them go around and hiking up onto three wheels they look so out of shape and you wonder how you could see out of the windscreen, but it is not that bad.
“Going over the jump for the first time was a little daunting, but once we got that out of the way everything else just fell into place and it was a packet of fun.
“I am sure the fans are going to be in for one hell of a show both this weekend and then on the dirt in Sydney next Saturday night at Valvoline Raceway in Sydney.”
Brisbane speedway racer Brett Thomas was not only driving a truck for the first time, he was steering a race vehicle on bitumen for the first time as well!
“After I did a couple of laps I thought ‘what the hell is going on here’,” said Thomas, who will be backed by TFH over the weekend.
“We made a few adjustments and advice from Robby we got better each time I went out.
“Hopefully we make the same sort of progress over the weekend and we can head to Sydney next weekend with plenty of confidence – at least I will be back on dirt down there.
“This is going to be a hell of a lot of fun.”
Australian off-road racer Greg Gartner, was also having his first drive away from the dirt, but unlike the other rookies he attacked the temporary jumps on his out lap.
Gartner’s off-road and “jumping” experience probably gives him a slight edge on the other Australian rookies in the field.
“We just had to get straight into it,” said Gartner, who is a former outright winner of the famous Finke Desert race in Central Australia.
“The street course with the temporary jumps is something totally new to me and it will be a great experience.”
Gordon is stoked to be back in Australia and back on the Gold Coast, where he scored his first IndyCar podium in 1993.
“I guess what I wanted to achieve from Stadium Super Trucks was what you would get if you put a V8 Supercar, motocross bike and Baja truck in a shoe box and shook them all up,” said Gordon.
“There result has been pretty spectacular and we have a vehicle that can put on a hell of a show on either a road or street course, over man-made jumps or on dirt, like we will see in Sydney next week.
“It was great to have a few hours at Paul’s Performance Driving Centre and dial in a few set-up changes and give the rookies plenty of time behind the wheel.
“We have brought plenty of spare parts because we know we are going to need them!”
Practice for the Stadium Super Trucks on the Gold Coast starts tomorrow morning, before four races across the weekend.
All sessions will be covered live on Fox Sports and will be carried on Network Ten over the weekend.
Tickets for both the Gold Coast and Valvoline Raceway, Sydney event next weekend are available from Ticketek.com.au.
STADIUM SUPER TRUCKS SCHEDULE – CASTROL GOLD COAST 600 (all times local to Gold Coast – AEDT minus one hour):
Friday, October 23
10:15am-10:35am – Practice
5:45pm-6:05pm – Race 1 (10 laps)
Saturday, October 24
8:45am-9:05am – Practice
12:40pm-1:00pm – Race 2 (10 laps)
Sunday, October 25
8:10am-8:30am – Race 3 (10 laps)
1:00pm-1:20pm – Race 4 (10 laps)