Teenager chasing V8 victory
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Stepping up from the SsangYong Race Series to the BNT NZ Touring Car Championship during the domestic motorsport off-season, Chelsea Herbert impressed many at the opening round of the season at Pukekohe Park Raceway last month.
Despite the wild change of machinery, the 18-year-old was able to claim a maiden podium finish in just her second start -- despite having to adapt her driving style between two different kinds of race car with a limited amount of testing under her belt.
"The first time I hopped into the V8, I was asking myself 'am I driving my go kart?'," Herbert told Driven.
"It felt exactly like driving a kart. It just stops when you want it to stop, it turns when you want it to turn, and when you put your foot down it goes.
"I think the biggest thing for me is learning how far you can go on the brakes. It's just about trying to find those different limits." Herbert's round-one consistency came while racing in front of a crowd of more than 100,000 people -- the NZ Touring Cars leading the undercard for the Supercars Championship ITM Auckland SuperSprint event.
"To be in the V8s at a Supercar meeting, that was pretty cool. I got a good contact with Fabian Coulthard; I was over in his pit and they were saying 'oh yeah, we've checked you out'," said Herbert.
"We also had my sponsor, Ian Timperly from Motor Trade Finance -- he was going back to his motel and James Courtney and Garth Tander were like 'oh, the girl in the yellow tent'! "That was pretty cool, to know that those big guys were noticing little me." Having accomplished a podium, Herbert says that aiming for a race win this season is a realistic goal. However victory at this weekend's ITM Motorsport Championship event at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park will be a tall ask.
"Being a rookie in the V8s, you can't have too high an expectation on yourself, because you don't know which way it's going to go. But I expect myself to be up the top.
"For Taupo, we don't know going into the round, having never raced a V8 there -- hopefully we're looking at a top three.
"I've shown to everyone that I can pass, I can drive. So it's putting all those ingredients together and hoping we can make it work.
"[In my] first qualifying I was only seven tenths of a second off pole. It's realistic for us to be up the top, to be winning, to be getting podiums. But it's about the consistency, and I feel that we've got the consistency within the team to do that.
"But motorsport's motorsport. Anything can happen."