Raceway testing helps Walsh fine-tune for 2014 campaign
LAPTOPS as important as tools and tyres. Sweltering conditions in the cockpit. Eyes glued to the racetrack and computer screens.
Team testing for a new motorsport season is high-tech and physically draining for the driver, especially when it's as warm as it was at Queensland Raceway yesterday.
However, for Ipswich racer Ash Walsh, it's a vital part of his preparation for this year's Dunlop series and hopefully other V8 endurance events in coming months.
After finishing second in last year's Dunlop rounds and impressing on his Bathurst endurance racing debut, Walsh is fine-tuning his Matt Stone Racing Ford Falcon for another challenging year on the track.
Yesterday's 100 laps of testing at Willowbank gave his team the chance to evaluate everything from brake pressure to how the car's components are working.
"It was pretty good,'' Walsh said, pleased with his day's work.
"We tested a few things that we thought might work later on in the year and they seemed to work pretty well.
"Other than that, we were just going through and checking that everything was right and getting my eye in.''
Live data is streamed from Walsh inside the cockpit out on the track to the team engineers watching a series of laptops in the pits.
More testing is done after each change is made following a series of laps.
"There's a lot of stuff that goes into it,'' Walsh said.
The opening round of the 2014 Dunlop Series is in Adelaide from February 27-March 2.
Walsh, who turned 26 last month, said it was about 20 degrees hotter inside his race car than outside.
"It's good to go and spend a few hours in the car over the day and get used to the heat. It prepares you for Adelaide,'' he said.
"Anything that you can do now in preparation is going to help then.''
Walsh enjoyed his workout after enjoying a recent holiday on Stradbroke Island and in Fiji.
He experienced a different sort of heat on Straddie, being there when the bushfires approached.
But he was in no immediate danger and able to have a rare break before preparing for a new season - his third full-time year in the Dunlop series, a level below the V8 Supercars.
Yesterday's testing at his home track was also a chance for Walsh's Ipswich-based sponsors to get a close-up look at the impressive car in action.
The newly wrapped Team Infants' Friend Ford Falcon glistened as the Ipswich ace guided it around Queensland Raceway.
National pharmaceutical company Infants' Friend are backing Walsh again, along with his father's company GJ Walsh and Co.
Another company with strong Ipswich links assisting Ash for the first time is AUSblue, a national producer and distributor of diesel exhaust fluid.
Sponsors like Greg Walsh, Neil McPhillips (Infants Friend) and AUSblue business partners Pat Maguire and Andrew Morrell are helping a dedicated Ipswich driver impress on the national stage.