Determined to the Finish

AM2E5348-300The Maximum Motorsport team has shown great resolve to finish this years Bathurst 12 Hour endurance event at Mt Panorama.

The MMS Subaru WRX STI showed good pace during the two accident-interrupted qualifying sessions, the 4th fastest of the Class D production cars.

Lead driver Dean Herridge elected the start the race this year and had a good opening stint. But as the first pit stop approached, it became apparent there was an issue with tyre degradation.

“In our first stint the car was very good”, commented Dean. “We managed to get in some good, consistent lap times. But about three laps before I came in for the first change, we started to get a vibration in the front of the car. The front-left tyre was flat by the time I pitted, and we think it was down to the the tyres being tight within the guard. They were rubbing slightly, so we just had to manage that throughout the day. But, a pretty strong start”.

AM2E4281-300With the tyre problems being managed, the team knuckled down to stay in touch with the Class D leaders. John O’Dowd and Angus Kennard put in good stints during the morning, navigating the sometimes heavy race traffic. But there were echoes of the teams first visit to the 12 Hour, with a fuel tank problem causing a series of unscheduled pit stops.

“There’s two sections in the tank, one on each side. And one side isn’t working”, reported Angus after his first stint. “So we’re running on half capacity, and whenever we get a fuel surge we have to come back to top-up the tank.”

With the fuel surge problem worsening, the team brought the car into the garage to investigate the problem – a stray piece of plastic inside the tank was found to be blocking the fuel pick up. Although the time lost took them out of contention for Class D honors, a finish was still in sight. “At this stage we will not be on the podium but we came here to finish the event and that is what we will do” stated John O’Dowd.

Back on track and with the fuel problem solved, Dean, John and Angus banked some solid times during their stints as the race headed towards the 6:15pm finish.

AN7E9585-300“It was a tough day, with some of the hottest tyre temperatures that have been recorded here”, said Dean at the end of a long 12 hours. “A tough way for a production car to spend 12 hours. But we finished. The boys never gave up. I’m immensely proud of them. Unfortunately we didn’t get the result we came for, but a finish in these circumstances is fantastic, so we’re pretty pleased.”

The Maximum team now heads west to its Perth facility to prepare for the start of the WA rally championship and September’s Australasian Safari.

Bathurst 12 Hour Video Diary

Follow the entire weekend of the 2014 Bathurst 12 Hour race, with Maximum Motorsport.

Friday – Practice

Saturday – Qualifying

Sunday – Race Day

Back to Gravel

IMG_6386-300After a lay-off of almost four years, Dean Herridge returned to the gravel last weekend, grabbing at podium finish in the Experts Cup round of the Western Australian Rally Championship.

Herridge was a last minute inclusion, stepping into brand new Subaru WRX STI of the injured Brad Markovic. “It was a very last minute decision”, commented Dean. “But with Brad unable to compete, it was a good opportunity to give his car a really thorough shake-down. I teamed up with Brad’s regular co-driver James Marquet, and we used the same tyres and settings that Brad normally uses. So it gave me the chance to get a good feel for how the car is performing, and we’ll use that to fine tune some of the settings for the next round.”

IMG_6392-300“For the past few years I’ve only been competing in tarmac and circuit events, and I hadn’t done a night stage since Canberra in 2007. We may even have been able to snag second, but James was unwell over the last few stages and I drove without notes. So third was great.”

Along with third outright, Dean and James also won a Experts Cup which is awarded to crews who complete each stage of the event in the top six stage times.

IMG_6427-300Second in Group N, and seventh overall, John O’Dowd and Ben Searcy continued their good run of form to maintain their lead in the Group N championship. And Graham Iddles and Greg Flood piloted an older Subaru WRX STI to 17th outright, making it three out of three MMS cars to complete the event.

The next event on the WARC calendar is the Lewana Stages which starts on the 27th of July.

Photos courtesy of Brian Percival.

2013 Experts Cup – SS3 from Maximum Motorsport on Vimeo. Music by The Exits.

Dean’s Bathurst 12 Hour Wrap-Up

Herridge_B12H13_Sat06-300So close, yet so far. As they say, that’s motorsport. If I had a dollar for every time we or someone else has used that quote in the last few days, I could fund next year’s event.

The 2013 Bathurst 12 Hour attracted the biggest field in history and also some of the biggest names in the world of motorsport. It is a fantastic event to be involved in and was certainly full of thrills and spills from beginning to end.

Each year, when our team arrives into Bathurst we normally spend the Thursday completing the final preparation on the car, all the documentation and scrutineering checks before we hit the track for the first practise on Friday. This year was no different. The guys did a great job and gave us the best STI that I have driven around Bathurst. The car was great from the first practice laps on Friday. I completed the first session, making sure that the car was set up correctly and didn’t require too many changes to accommodate the slick tyres we had to run.

In actual fact, the Pirelli tyres coupled with the STI were a perfect match. We had no problems with the handling or feel of the car, which gave us extra time to gather data on the conditions and the wear rates of the tyres. In my first practice we were able to pump out a sub 2 min 30 sec lap which would make it the fastest lap for a production based Subaru at Bathurst ever! This also meant we were the fastest Production Car of the day!

With the car performing so strongly in the first practise we were able to get John O’Dowd and Angus Kennard in the car for the final two practice sessions so they could become comfortable. We also started to “road in” the new slick to get them ready for race day. All in all, it was a very successful first day on the track.

Saturday is all about qualifying. There is one 90 minute session in the morning and a 30 minunte session in the afternoon. Our plan was to have all drivers run in the first session and then prep the car during the break so that we could use the shorter session as a run in for the car to start on Sunday. John and Angus ran first and both battled the traffic to post solid times. I ran late in the session and wasn’t quite able to get a clear lap to gain pole for production; we missed it by ½ a second!

Herridge_B12H13_Sun03-300The team worked flat out to change many components during the break so we could shake the car down in the last session and make sure it was good to go on race day. Things like wheel hubs, bearings, brake rotors, pads, driveshafts, lubricants, etc. were all changed to make sure that the car was given the best chance to finish the 12 hours with no problems.

Because we were to use the 30 minute session only as a shakedown and check, and I was the only driver out in this session, I was also to “road” another set of slick for Sunday. On the new tyres and brakes, the car felt fantastic and I knew that even with a full tank of fuel we could post the pole lap if we tried. I radioed the team and asked them if they wanted me to go for it. The reply was no, just run everything in and park it up. Which was the correct answer as we were aiming for No 1 on Sunday arvo not qualifying, but it is hard not to attack the track with a car that felt that good.

So, really we had the best lead up you could ask for- everything was set and ready for 12 hours at the mountain.

On race days it’s an early start for everyone. The team was at the track at 05:30 to get the car ready to start on the green flag at 7:00. John was elected to start the event for us–he did a great job and even avoided a tricky situation heading onto the Conrod Straight as there had been a multi car crash. The only damage was to both front and rear driver doors where a Ford pitched sideways into John. Luckily it was only cosmetic damage and the doors at least still opened during the subsequent pit stops.

Angus was next in, followed by myself. All the pit stops were going well, the team was working well together and, of course, we were having no issues with the car. We were 2nd when Angus come in to hand over to me. During the stop we actually leapfrogged the BMW to lead of production, and a couple of laps later their engine expired and our main competitors were gone.

We now had a 3 lap lead and things were looking good. After my first run, John and Angus continued with their stints and did a great job and producing consistent laps.

The weather was expected to get worse later in the afternoon, so we decided to keep my hours down so that I could complete the majority of the wet running if the rain came. Angus completed a double stint and then John was back in the seat. Our lead grew to 5 laps in this time and all was going well until late into hour six.

Herridge_B12H13_Sat09-300John was at the top of the mountain and came across a GTR with a puncture. With cars everywhere John had a Porsche make contact with him and turn him into the fence at 130kph. The resultant damage meant we were out. Fortunately, John was OK, despite the big impact. Obviously we are all disappointed that we weren’t able to take the win this year, however I am hugely proud of the whole team: John, Angus and particularly our Subaru STI, which punches above its weight and has a great amount of support at the Mountain.

Maybe 2014 will be the year…

Words: Dean Herridge
Photos: Ryan Lahiff

Herridge to Contest 2013 Bathurst 12-Hour

2013-Bath12-Preview-300Subaru ambassador, Dean Herridge, will contest the Bathurst 12-Hour on February 10, looking to go one better than the second placing he achieved in the production class in the endurance race last year.

Dean, who made his name in motorsport driving the WRX STI in gravel rallies, has become one of the country’s leading tarmac racers, having won the Australian Targa Championship and competed at the Bathurst enduro four times, including the past three.

In 2013 he’ll be in action in his Subaru Genuine Parts supported WRX STI, along with his Maximum Motorsport team drivers, John O’Dowd and Angus Kennard.

“I’m always excited to be heading back to Bathurst for the 12Hour as each year it gets bigger and bigger,” Dean said.

“The Subaru is a great car to drive around the best track in Australia for 12 hours, myself and the team cant wait.”

Latest update from Dean Herridge…

Well the car has been loaded on the truck and is now on its way from Perth to Bathurst. The excitement begins!

This year’s Bathurst 12 Hour has over 50 teams entered, which should make every lap an interesting one.

The field is made up of plenty of big names and cars, however our team is focused on the Production Category. The plan? To fend off all the BMWs, Fords and Holdens, taking our Subaru to the top step of the podium. Interesting to note that there is not one Mitsubishi Evo in the event.

John O’Dowd and Angus Kennard will join me again to share the driving duties, our third year together. Both John and Angus have years of Targa experience and John has been competing in a Maximum Motorsport Subaru with great success in the WA Rally Championship for the last 3 seasons.

The team have worked very hard since the new year to prepare the STI for this years event, including a complete refresh of the engine, clutch and drivetrain and also upgrades to the front brake package.

One of the biggest challenges is that all the Production teams will run on slick tyres. This is not only the first time at the 12 Hour, but the first time that Maximum Motorsport will run a car on slicks. We will have plenty of things to sort out during the practise sessions on Friday and in qualifying on Saturday.

Luckily we have the support of Pirelli to assist us. They’ll look after our tyres and help us make sure the set up is well-balanced, which is important for an endurance event like this one. In all Targa and previous 12 Hour events that we have campaigned, we have always had to run an “R” Spec tyre–basically a cross between a race and road tyre. All our data over the years is based on this style of tarmac tyre, so this switch to slicks will definitely keep us on our toes all weekend. Trashing around a track like Bathurst for 12 hours is a tough challenge for any Production vehicle, and this year will be no different as the new tyres alone will put extra strain on wheel bearings, brakes, suspension because of the extra grip and forces that we expect. However I think the STI is up to the challenge and I can’t wait to drive it around Mount Panorama with its new set of “boots”.


Targa Tasmania – Leg 2

Photo courtesy of Perfect PicturesIt’s been one of those days for Dean Herridge at 2012 Targa Tasmania. After a better than expected opening day, the first stage of day 2, Rossarden, provided disappointment.

“We’re not completely certain what happened, but it’s likely we’ve thrown a rod. We won’t know for sure until we get the car back to Perth. It was going great but then the engine let go without warning”, explained Dean Herridge at the end of a long day. “Over the years we’ve not had too many problems like this. But we run these engines under a fair bit of stress, so you have to expect things like this from time-to-time. Both Graham and John are going well, so we’ll now concentrate on helping them to get the best result we can.”

Meanwhile, the other Maximum cars has trouble-free runs today. In the 4WD Showroom class John O’Dowd maintained his 5th place, while Graham Iddles moved the #985 Seibon Carbon Subaru up into 18th place.

Tomorrow the crews head out on the long journey to Strahan, on the Tasmanian west coast. A day earlier than on previous years, leg 3 includes the fast Cethana stage, the tricky Hellyer Gorge, and concludes with the long Rinadeena stage in Strahan.

Targa Tasmania 2012 – Leg 1

1. Jason White / John White, 2011 Lamborghini Gallardo, 8m36s
2. Tony Quinn / Naomi Tillett, 2009 Nissan GTR, +48s
3. Matt Close / Casey Close, 2010 Audi TT RS, +1m00s
4. Brendan Reeves / Rhianon Smyth, 2010 Mazda RX8 SP, +1m56s
5. Matt Sims / Dennis Sims, 2009 Nissan GTR, +2m06s

Photos courtesy of Perfect Pictures and Targa Tasmania –