Castrol Toyota Racing Series debutante Chelsea Herbert is hoping to overcome several obstacles in the next four weeks.
Herbert made her competitive single-seater debut with Giles Motorsport at Highlands Motorsport Park last weekend, recording a best finish of 15th overall.
The highly technical Cromwell circuit made her debut extra tough with 22 undulating turns requiring maximum focus. During practice, Herbert was left distracted by the heavy steering, an issue the full field suffered with.
Come Sunday afternoon, Herbert said she came away from the weekend disappointed with the results but optimistic about the forthcoming weeks.
“The biggest challenge was the same for everyone the whole way through the pit lane, which was the heavy steering,” Helbert told velocitynews.co.nz.
“I knew it was going to be heavy, I trained really hard pre-season, but there’s nothing quite like seat time and at the end of the day that’s what I needed and that’s what I didn’t have.
“It was a tough week having my body adjust to it, but I’m sure over the next four weeks to come we’ll improve in terms of that area.
“I knew we’d be at the back, but I didn’t think we’d be that far back. I’m a little disappointed that we weren’t closer to the back of the field.
“We were among a couple of people and my lap times we where I was hoping for by the end of the weekend.
“Although we’ve bridged the gap a little bit in terms of lap time my actual race craft wasn’t there. I think that was just down to physical fitness and fatigue.”
Having come from the BNT V8s where she drove a V8-powered Toyota Camry, Herbert said the transition from the heavy touring car to the much lighter single-seater was a shock to the system.
“The kerbs actually hurt in these cars! I got knocked around a bit this morning so. In the V8 you just hear the brrt brrt and that’s it. You don’t even think about it. In the [FT-60] you know about it because you’re up in the air.
“In terms of adjusting to that, it’s not been a challenge but it’s something to get your head around. The racing lines are completely different. Some places where you’re getting out of the gas in a V8 you’re flat to the floor in the FT-60. It’s a lot of fun.”
Round 2 of the championship moves to Teretonga Park in Invercargill, a circuit much shorter with a third of the number of corners.
Herbert is hopeful of better results but is aware of the possibility that she could get lapped if she doesn’t get on the pace.
“Hopefully at Invercargill, we can stay with them a little bit more. It’s a short track so I’m hoping to get up to speed as quickly as possible. I think it will be a little bit easier in terms of length.
“It’s going to be more of a crucial learning track so I’ll have to be more precise, but in terms of physicality I don’t know how much harder it will be.”
Herbert is keeping herself honest too. While she’s not had an ideal start she’s already aiming high and wants to be knocking on the door of the top 10 by the season’s end.
“I don’t want to be at the back of the pack for the whole season. Everyone is going to be improving with every round, so as long as I’m improving then that would be awesome.”