Bathurst success vital to V8 future
ASH Walsh is facing a weekend of pressure and expectation the like of which he's never experienced before.
The 26-year-old Yamanto product has to produce the two best drives of his life around Mt Panorama on consecutive days in different cars.
Today, he will try to regain the lead of the Dunlop development Series for his Matt Stone Racing team.
Tomorrow, he partners Scott Pye in a Dick Johnson Racing Ford Falcon in the Bathurst 1000.
It is a daunting challenge, but something he has been working towards since he was a teenager.
"I realised when I was around 16 I started to think this could be a career rather than just a hobby," Walsh said.
"That's when I transitioned from go-karts to Formula Ford.
"It changed my perception of how I go about racing, including health and fitness, and also the media."
Walsh maintains he was no immediate success when he first hopped behind the wheel of a go-kart.
"It took a lot of time," he said.
"It's taken years and years to get good at all that."
A good weekend for Walsh could see him go from a promising youngster on the fringes to possibly securing a full-time V8 Supercar contract.
But first he has to get through his two races without putting his car into a wall or a rival.
And that is without even considering all the other obligations he has to fulfil this weekend.
Apart from the driving and communicating with his teams, Walsh has had to deal with media duties, fan signings and sponsor obligations.
It is a step up on what he went through last year, when Walsh and Tim Blanchard took their DJR car to 15th spot at Bathurst.
"We went under the radar a bit," Walsh said of his Bathurst 1000 debut. "This time there has been a lot of positive news about DJR, so there is a lot of hype and media interest."
A win in the Development Series or a good show in the Bathurst 1000 could do great things for Walsh's career.
The ambitious driver is trying to achieve both, without short changing one or the other.
So it is no surprise he is looking forward to finishing Saturday's Development Series race and being able to turn his sole focus on to the big event on Sunday.
But Walsh is nothing if not confident in his ability to handle the load.
"I feel like not much has changed in the past 12 months, but I've come a long way," he said.
"I've had good results and am doing the right things and am maturing as a driver."
Pye qualified his and Walsh's DJR Falcon in 17th spot for tomorrow's race while Walsh will start from fifth on the grid in today's Development Series race.
Appetite for success
THERE is more than just the racing to consider as Ash Walsh juggling his responsibilities between racing teams at Bathurst this weekend.
Walsh revealed he was abandoning his Dick Johnson Racing team to join his Development Series team, Matt Stone Racing, for roast dinner.
Stone's wife Bev caters for the team and her roasts are not to be missed, according to Walsh.
"Usually I'd be with DJR," Walsh said. "But Bev does such a good job I'm usually eating with her."
Walsh just hopes he can avoid any conflict with the DJR caterers. "I don't tell them," he said.