IT was the rumble of the rookies that would crash South Australian Todd Hazelwood’s debut as a full-time Supercars driver on the street circuit of his native Adelaide late in the Adelaide 500 on Saturday.
It had shaped as a largely uneventful race as the drivers entered the 55th of 78 laps with Shane van Gisbergen controlling the front and most of the inexperienced drivers trying to avoid finishing bottom with Rick Kelly, whose race was essentially finished in the early stages.
All hell was about to break loose.
Hazelwood was involved in a three-way mellee on turn five with Richie Stanaway and James Golding that dashed any hopes Hazelwood had of having a clean first weekend.
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Ten minutes of work to his car left him several laps left behind and while he finished 22nd, those behind him were those who had suffered even worse luck.
It was a frustrated Hazelwood whose debut was nothing like what he had hoped for, but the 2017 Super2 champion has vowed to be patient and methodical.
Hazelwood had come into the weekend with an unexpected calm air about him.
He indicated that he’s intent on playing the long game — that he could not get swept up in the hype of his first race weekend at the highest level, in his home town, but think of how to get the most out of the year ahead.
“I can’t go away from what got me here,” Hazelwood said. “But there is a real intensity about this category — you’ve got the best 26 drivers in the country at the top level of motorsport here in Australia.
“To be part of that elite group is pretty special but it’s a tremendous challenge to be successful.
“It’s about head down and bum up, do your homework and try to get the best results that you can.”
For all of that, Hazelwood allowed himself to savour the moment in the minutes leading up to his first qualifying session.
After a long summer of preparing, his first test was upon him.
“It feels a bit surreal,” Hazelwood said. “These are my idols growing up, especially the Ford drivers, and here I am getting ready to race against them.
“All drivers do their homework about the opposition but safe to say I know more about them than they do about me.”
Heading into Race 2, Hazelwood knows things could have been worse.
He managed to finish the race and the car can be tuned for another crack at the Adelaide circuit.
And he can learn much about the pace and the perils of racing at the highest level.
“Coming into this weekend it was always going to be tough to know how we’d go,” Hazelwood said. “If we could just have a clean weekend … for us to get to this point there’s an enormous amount of work that’s been done.
“We’re just a small team that’s still trying to develop and get up and running.
“Once we get through this round we can hit the reset button and keep building.”