WHEN Chelsea Angelo did her first lap of Mount Panorama she did so with her learner’s plates clearly displayed, but the Victorian teenager soon demonstrated she is a driver of significant skill.
At 17 years of age Angelo was one of the youngest competitors to race across the three days of the 2014 Bathurst Motor Festival, but as a member of the Australian Formula 3 Championship field she was one of the fastest.
On Saturday in her Bathurst race debut she clocked a best lap of two minutes, 4.7725 seconds – an effort faster than Greg Murphy’s ‘lap of the Gods’ and Craig Lowndes’ V8 Supercars record. Yesterday she produced an even better 2:04.5331.
Given her only experience of Mount Panorama prior to the event was watching the Bathurst 1000 each October and using a simulator, Angelo adjusted to the iconic race track well.
“Definitely using the simulator has helped me adjust to the track,” she said.
“The elevation changes were surprising, I went on my first road car lap on Wednesday and it was just so steep coming down the mountain.
“The trickiest parts probably have to be over the top, as you have got to hold it flat in these cars, and going down through The Esses and The Dipper is fairly tricky.
“It was a challenge when I first went out there, but now I have gotten used to the track a bit more, it’s fairly exciting to get out there.”
After having her motor sport introduction racing karts, Angelo was a member of last year’s National Formula Ford championship before making the step up to Formula 3 in 2014.
It is a series which has provided the likes of current V8 Supercar drivers Nick Percat, Chaz Mostert and David Reynolds.
Angelo knows she still has plenty to learn as the season unfolds, but being part of the small 10-car field who contested the Bathurst round of the championship will certainly rate as a highlight for her.
“It is a good bunch, it would have been great if a couple more competitors came to Bathurst, but what we have got here is fantastic. There are still some very good racers here,” she said.
“It was a big ambition to drive here, I never thought I would be here at Bathurst driving one of Australia’s fastest cars, so it’s pretty exotic.
“It is a great coincidence coming here to Bathurst at Easter and racing here for the very first time. It’s pretty special.”
Angelo’s first competition day at Mount Panorama did not see her get as much track time as she would have liked, with both practice and qualifying sessions red flagged.
Still, she managed a best lap of 2:12.2171 in her OzStaff Dallara F307 during practice and went from sixth on the grid for her debut Bathurst race.
The teenager went on to place fifth after a good dice with Arrie Maree and Garnet Patterson, while yesterday’s race played in similar fashion, with Angelo driving her way into fifth once again.
Prior to the two 35-minute races, Angelo had predicted an outright Mount Panorama lap record.
She was right, giving her another reason to remember her first race at Bathurst.
“We didn’t get the times down all that much on Friday with what happened in practice and qualifying with the red flags, but I definitely expect we are going to see a couple of lap record breakers here in race one and hopefully in race two as well,” she said.