ASH Walsh can probably consider himself a little unlucky not to be the man leading the Dunlop Development Series championship heading into the Bathurst round, but it will take more than luck if he is to finish the season on top.
After finishing as the runner-up to Dale Wood in the 2013 championship, this year the Infants Friend driver has again been one of the men to beat.
Wins at the Clipsal, Winton and Townsville rounds had him leading the way in the series, which is viewed as the main feeder to the V8 Supercars championship.
But when he was relegated to the back of the grid following a weigh bridge infringement for race one of the most recent Development Series round at Ipswich in August, it hurt his standings.
While Walsh still finish that round with a fifth and a second placing, rival Paul Dumbrell snagged a pair of wins to leapfrog the Ford driver.
“I have been very consistent this year, there have just been a couple of little incidents and that penalty I got at Ipswich that put us at the back of the grid,” Walsh said.
“If that hadn’t happened I would be 150 points up the road, but that’s racing.”
Fortunately for Walsh, Dumbrell only holds a four-point advantage over him heading into the Bathurst round.
Considering this point in time 12 months ago Walsh was trying to make up a gap of 162 points, he is in a much better position.
He feels has a better package to work with than what he brought to Mount Panorama in 2013 and even back then, he had few complaints in terms of car speed.
“Last year in Bathurst we had a couple of bad starts, so our round results were not as good as we would have liked,” he said of an eighth and a fourth placing.
“But the few little tweeks we have made with the car over the last 12 months, I think it is going to be good.”
This year instead of two 40-minute races, Development Series drivers will battle it out on Saturday over 250 kilometres, the decision to change the format being made in late July.
While there is an option for Walsh to utilise a co-driver given the longer race, he has decided to cover the entire distance himself and keep his championship aspirations in his own hands.
Still, he knows he will have a fight on his hands as he tries to claim the chequered flag and the lead of the series.
“I am looking forward to a longer race, it is going to be tough, it is always a good battle between PD [Dumbrell] and myself, Cam Waters will be up there and Steve Owen is coming into it as well as a co-driver,” he said.
“I am fighting for the championship and I think it is a bit of a risk to bring someone in at such short notice. If we had more time we could have got someone and done multi-day testing and prepared well.
“The main game guys are not eligible either and the people I could have called on probably would not have been the right fit for me
“I like doing the laps, but I think I am going to be a bit sore come Sunday.”
Teams are required to make one compulsory pit stop for a set of tyres and a minimum fuel drop of 80 litres for the 41-lap race.