AMERICAN TRANS AM TOUR: NATHAN HERNE’S COTA DIARY #5
In his final diary entry, two-time Turtle Wax Trans Am champion Nathan Herne details the one hour race that marked his debut in the American Trans Am Series at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
Herne finished a promising fourth, despite a number of hurdles that he overcame during the race, which he details at length in his diary entry.
From here, Herne heads back to Australia to compete in the Turtle Wax Trans Am 100 as part of the Supercheap Auto Bathurst International.
“Well, that’s a wrap on the American trip! And damn, out of all of the racing I’ve ever done in my life, this American TA2 stuff – This is real motorsport.
“I can’t say I maximised the race, I started off awesome and worked my way from 12th to third within two racing laps (I wasn’t joking when I said we had a wicked fast car in qualifying) although I just couldn’t adapt to the aero wash you get from following in these cars.
“The start was chaos, Rafa Matos was just trying to stay clean to win the championship and you could tell he was doing so, everyone else in the field was going crazy as if they were a pack of lions charging down a gazelle (Rafa). Rafa has such a respected name over here I was even nervous to be on track with him. But I figured that whilst everyone focused on trying to get him, I’ll just stay to the opposite side of the road and make hay while the sun shines.
“I was meant to start behind my team-mate Tyler Kicera although another car decided to park there, so I just done the old speedway trick and parked it right on the inside of him to take my position back. He must’ve gotten onto the radio to complain because during the first caution I got sent back a spot from P8 to P9 by race control. And I never got any clarification on why.
“So with that, I had a guy in front of me who was not happy and a guy behind me who I had absolutely no idea of what his intentions were. So I was pretty nervous for what lied ahead!
“I decided to brake late and fire around the outside, there was contact on the inside and I went from 8th to 5th I think then climbed up to 3rd with a 3 wide pass down the back straight.
“After that I was just stuck behind Connor Zilisch. I really really stuffed up at one point and made a move but wasn’t aggressive enough to cut him off. I basically done an Australian pass and not an American pass, and trust me, there’s a difference!
“On every restart after that, there was a Canadian/Russian bloke called Misha Gokihberg. Who every time would not get out of my left rear. I tried everything to get Connor on the restarts and at one stage had him around the outside. Until Misha came flying in and nearly took me out by spinning me in front of the field.
“At one stage the fuel load lined up with car setup and I took off. Honestly the car was flying and I set the second fastest lap of the race. I thought yep, this is it. This is the chance. Then once I caught the front two they just backed up T1 and I caught them at the worst time possible and put a hole in the front end from hitting Connor right on his rear push bar. It was my mistake as I just couldn’t pull the car up in time.
“I had no clue I had damage and couldn’t work out why I had so much push at high speed for. And for any drivers reading this. If you have push at high speed, FOCUS ON LOW SPEED!! I really stuffed up here and decided I’d try and burn the rear tyre out of the car to rotate through the carousel. But that was a wrong wrong move. As soon as I done that I couldn’t hang onto the rear either and dropped off the front pack and then Connor Mosack managed to get past me, right before something let go and he started blowing oil everywhere.
“I had a huge gap to P4, and a all but guaranteed podium. But I just couldn’t keep the thing off of the oil, I’d either hit it on entry or hit it on exit as I couldn’t rotate enough to avoid it. I hit the oil big time going passed a lap car and then we went three wide down the back straight and I got dropped to fifth. I only managed to get P4 back by .001 seconds at the line!
“At the end of the day, I’ve learnt so much from being over here and met so many cool people. I’ve definitely gotten the taste for it over here (just not on the food) and would be back tomorrow if I got the opportunity.
“I didn’t get to meet Chuck Norris but I got a free shirt of his which was cool!
“This turned out more like a race report than a diary recap although the racing over here just took my breath away. It was bloody hard, elbows out racing where everyone gets into each other but can shake hands afterwards. I really enjoyed my time here and the Stevens-Miller Racing crew felt natural to be a part of. It was just like the American version of Garry Rogers Motorsport in a lot of ways.
“Again, a massive thank you to everyone for the messages and support. It’s been one hell of a trip and one I’ll hopefully be able to make again sometime soon!
“Time to get ready for the plane trip and head back to Bathurst!”
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