Balcatta Tyrepower
Outside of a Tyrepower store, looking at side of red, blue and white painted building.


One of the things that I love about my job is that it takes me all over the country, where I get the chance to visit all kinds of places and meet lots of people.

Take, for example, Katanning.

Never heard of it? Neither had I, until Shane and Kristy D’Aprile’s Tyrepower Katanning won the 2016 International Dealer of the Year!

Katanning is a small but prosperous farming community a couple of hours south of Perth, a really lovely spot.

Apparently Shane and Kristy’s store is the second-most distant in the Tyrepower network, so it’s a fantastic effort for them to win Tyrepower International Dealer of the Year.

Before our most recent race, I dropped by Tyrepower Katanning for a visit and was blown away by the local interest and support. Hundreds of people turned up to what quickly turned into a big party … it was lots and fun and it was great to meet so many locals and their families.

There was an irony in my visit to Katanning too … my wife Lara grew up in Perth and as a young girl would often spend her school holidays in Katanning, where her best friend was from.

So Lara was excited to go back to Katanning after all these years … only to discover that the diving board at the swimming pool was gone, as was the spaceship in the playground!

But Lara was happy to revisit the giant slide and the BMX track, which funnily enough she has a scar on her knee from, after being a little too ambitious as a 12 year old on the jump!

Along with the visit to Katanning, Lara and I took the chance to spend some time relaxing with family leading up to the latest Supercar race, at Perth’s Barbagallo Raceway track.

Our weekend’s work in the West turned out pretty well … we exited it with our first win for TeamVortex and the Championship lead!

To be kind, the weather in Perth on the Friday and Saturday of race weekend was pretty dreadful, with rain squalls blowing in and out across both days. That made practice and qualifying a bit of a lottery, because you never quite knew where you were with car setup or track conditions.

We got it pretty right on Saturday though, starting third, and running at the pointy end of the pack through the opening two-thirds of the race.

Then my engineer Ludo (Lacroix) pulled a masterstroke, calling me in for fresh tyres while everyone else stayed out and battled around trying to keep their tyres alive, on what is the most abrasive track surface we race on annually.

It put me back down the field but we had pace aplenty, and I was able to slice through to the front and win driving away from them … even though the heavens opened again on the second last lap!

Aside from being the first win for TeamVortex, it was a great confidence-booster for everyone in the team, and a reinforcement that we are serious title contenders this year.

Sunday, being a longer race and in dry conditions, required a different approach and I think our strategy was the right one … unfortunately though on my outlap after my final stop, I slid a bit wide at the bottom corner and (Scott) McLaughlin in the Volvo got by.

I had more speed than him and felt that if I could get past again, I could have run down race winner Frosty, but I just couldn’t get past.

McLaughlin didn’t do anything wrong, he covered the line and had enough speed to stay in front, and that’s racing.

Still, podiums both days and the Championship lead … plus a visit to Katanning. I’d say that was a pretty good trip to Perth!


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