Chris Vermeulen drives Fujitsu Racing V8 Supercar
Suzuki MotoGP star Chris Vermeulen drives the Fujitsu Racing Ford Falcon V8 Supercar at Winton Raceway.
Britek Motorsport Managing Director, Jason Bright, has given Australian MotoGP star Chris Vermeulen the chance to sample his Fujitsu Racing Ford Falcon V8 Supercar. Britek Motorsport runs V8 Supercars for Fujitsu Racing and IRWIN Racing in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series.
The drive took place at Winton Motor Raceway in North-Eastern Victoria, a track Vermeulen last raced at in 1999 during the Australian Superbike Championship. The Suzuki MotoGP racer was given an overview of the Falcon from Bright before sitting beside the V8 Supercar star for some hot laps of the three-kilometre circuit. The winner of this year’s French MotoGP then jumped into the driver’s seat for eight laps, before returning to the pits for further discussion of the Ford with Bright and Chief Engineer Geoff Slater.
The 25-year-old World Motorcycle Championship star then went back out onto the circuit for another eight laps, improving his speed to be around 4.5 seconds off the pace Bright had been setting throughout the day. To finish, Bright again climbed into the driver’s seat to give the Sunshine Coast racer some extra tuition on getting the most out of the Ford V8 Supercar.
"Just incredible," said Vermeulen. "The only real thing I can compare with my Suzuki MotoGP motorcycle is the fact that both machines are fast, but from there it’s completely different. "Braking is the biggest surprise. For something that’s around nine-times heavier than what I race, the stopping performance is amazing.
"Power from the V8 race engine is also very impressive. I can see why these things are so popular with the drivers and fans alike. Vision in the car is very limited to what I’m used to. Being inside and having a rollcage around you, plus the seats and the harnesses is a complete contrast to simply jumping on a bike! I had raced at Winton a long time ago, but in the racecar it’s like the whole place had shrunk. Compared to the bike, the car takes up so much space on the track. Finding the right line was very tricky as I didn’t know where the front left was on the track!
"It was good to first get some laps beside Jason. When I then jumped-in, I took it easy and worked my way into it. I did have a spin and thought it best to come back and have a chat with guys. Jason gave me a few more tips and I was really surprised when he said go back out and really have a go! Then to finish Jason got back in the driver’s seat and those last few laps really opened my eyes to what the car is capable of."
Bright was impressed with his star pupil’s first drive of a Ford V8 Supercar. "Chris did a great job," said Bright. "Obviously driving a car is not new, but he’d never been in a racecar on a proper circuit. He dialed himself in nicely, and then brought his speed up. I was not surprised that he had a couple of spins as he was trying understand the car’s limits. I bet he’s never spun a MotoGP bike before! It shows that talent in motor sports can cross over. Although I’d have to say going from two wheels to four is the far easier transition."
"I found it very interesting to hear his feedback. He clearly understands lapping quickly. The comparison in some areas was close, but vastly different in others. He obviously travels down the straights a lot faster on a motorcycle, but with all the extra rubber we have in cars, we get around the corners much quicker. Chris was very impressed with the power; obviously our engine shop is doing the right thing! I have only limited experience riding motorcycles off-road, but Chris has invited me down to Phillip Island to look at their test in late January. Maybe my first experience of a road bike will be his MotoGP machine!"
Having tested the 08 Suzuki MotoGP motorcycle just last week at Phillip Island, Vermeulen is looking forward to challenging for wins next season. "Having a drive of the car was fun, but my business is racing in the MotoGP World Championship and after last week’s test I’m really excited about 08," said Vermeulen. "I guess the experience of driving a V8 underlines the fact that you have to give it 100%. My total focus is on bikes and winning MotoGP races and also chasing a world title. After I tick all those boxes, then Jason might get a phone call from me!"