Character Building Weekend for Hayes at Eastern Creek
17/09/2010 at 10:49am

Matthew Hayes endured some character building racing in Round 5 of the Commodore Cup national series at Eastern Creek on the weekend.

The successful go-kart driver was having his first run in a VS Commodore Cup car after an impressive run in an older VH model in the previous three rounds of the series, but the newer car frustrated Hayes and his team with a variety of mechanical problems over the weekend. Thus, despite qualifying strongly, Hayes only finished one of the weekend’s three races.

“Overall, it was a pretty disappointing weekend in terms of results, but I felt a lot more comfortable in this car than I did in the VH,” Hayes said. “I was becoming more and more confident to push the car harder each time I went out.”

In the opening practice session, Hayes finished up eighth on the timesheets.

“The car is a lot more stable through the faster corners than the VH, and you don’t have to work as hard,” he said. “It’s a lot more nimble and overall it’s an easier car to drive.”

A snapped left-rear hub bolt and broken third-gear linkage both conspired to end Hayes’s run in the weekend’s first qualifying session before he had the chance to set a flying lap.

In the second session, Hayes was also forced to park early with a differential problem, and was only able to set one flying lap. Even despite that setback, he still ended the session second-fastest behind Brett Holdsworth. However, the track conditions were slower overall than the first session, and Hayes ended up seventh on combined times.

The team was forced to install a taller diff ratio for the races, putting Hayes at a disadvantage accelerating out of the slower corners. In Race 1, he battled hard with Ross McGregor and Nick Parker, eventually finishing ninth.

“The tyres went off towards the end of the race, and using the wrong diff ratio made it difficult to compete against everyone else. I also made an error at Turn 2,” he said.

Hayes’s result in Race 1 gave him a front-row starting position for the second, top-10 reverse-grid race. He made a good start and took the race lead, holding out Brett Holdsworth and Tony Bates, before suffering clutch problems and being forced to retire after seven laps.

“Because of the gearbox problems we had in practice and qualifying, we had to install a synchromesh gearbox in the car, so I couldn’t just flat-shift,” he said. “Unfortunately, the clutch died, and I tried to just circulate to the end, but the car didn’t make it.”

A clutch cable failure on Lap 4 of the weekend’s third and final race capped off a tough weekend for Matthew and the team.

“Overall, it was disappointing that we had so many problems this weekend, but I know the new car is potentially a lot faster than the old one. I think we should be able to contend for some good race results in the next round at Sandown,” he concluded.
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