Although his year got off to a rocky start with some mechanical gremlins preventing him from contending the first two rounds, Bailey Sweeny returned to the track strong in Sydney where he secured his first Toyota 86 podium.
Overall, how would you rate your season out of 10? Why?
BS: I’d probably say a 7 and a half. The start of the season was pretty rocky with car dramas and a couple of mistakes on my behalf but we started to gain some pace towards the end and ended up seeing some good results.
The start of your season was pretty difficult for you, tell us a bit about that.
BS: We turned up to Bathurst and had mechanical issues right from the get go. The problem was, we had gone away testing and the car was perfectly fine but then we would rock up to a race with dramas again. The issues put us out of the first two rounds which was really difficult because I couldn’t learn or get better because I wasn’t able to race the car. Luckily we got them sorted and managed to get back out for Sydney.
That first Sydney round was obviously a standout event for you, what do you think those results came down to?
BS: It was my first weekend having the car going right and it’s a track that I’m pretty confident at. I’ve done a fair bit of testing there so it was a combination of being able to test there and actually having the car running properly.
You managed to secure your first podium in Sydney, what did that do for your confidence?
BS: Getting that podium in Sydney was probably the highlight of my season. It really helped boost my confidence, which in turn, really helped my driving. Along with the confidence came the pace and my results kept getting better. I thought I could get a podium this year and I did so it was definitely a confidence booster going into the next couple of rounds.
Was there a performance you were particularly proud of, even if the result wasn’t necessarily where you wanted it to be?
BS: I was pretty proud of my performance in the wet in Sydney. It was my first time in the wet and running top 3 for the majority of the race was good. Even though I wasn’t up there in the end, I was still pretty happy with that.
Where do you feel like you gained the most experience this year?
BS: It was probably the final race in Sydney during the first weekend we were there. I got a penalty in that race and had to fight from the back. After I got the penalty, I had to fight back to get the podium. I learned to be more patient with my passes, we knew we had the pace so I needed to minimise mistakes and look for the right opportunity.
You achieved a number of top five positions this season, what do you think it’s going to take to be consistently up there moving forward?
BS: I think the pace is definitely there for us, it’s just putting it together when it matters and keeping it cool. I need to work on my patience and minimise mistakes when it comes to passing.
What are your current plans for next year?
BS: I definitely want to race the Toyota 86 series again and maybe look at some other car racing series. We did a fair bit of karting this year but I think we’ll drop that next year to focus on car racing.