ArmorAll Gold Coast 600

This year’s running of the ArmorAll Gold Coast 600 marks the twentieth anniversary of motorsport on the streets of Surfers Paradise, with the V8 Supercars having been part of the action on this challenging street circuit since 1994.

This year’s event will provide race fans with plenty of action, with the grid’s 28 regular drivers being partnered by 28 ‘international class’ drivers from categories such as Formula 1, IndyCars, sports cars and international touring car championships.

Just how will the main players fare this weekend? And how will the international drivers – very acclaimed drivers in their own right – cope with the added challenge of being out of their natural environments?

Richard’s F1 previews this weekend’s action and takes a look at some of the talking points leading into the event…

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The Circuit

2011 ARMORALL GOLD COAST 600
Surfers Paradise Circuit Map
Date: 21-23 October 2011 Lap Length: 2.984km
Race Lap Record: 1:13.1332, James Courtney (Ford Falcon BF) – 2010
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 (All Drivers) Fri 09:25-10:05
Free Practice Session 2 (Co-Drivers) Fri 11:35-12:15
Free Practice Session 3 (Co-Drivers) Fri 13:35-14:15
Free Practice Session 4 (All Drivers) Fri 15:35-16:15
Race 1 Qualifying Sat 09:35-10:05
Race 1 Top-10 Qualifying Shootout Sat 10:50-11:20
Race 1 (102 laps, 300km) Sat 13:40-16:20
  Race 2 Qualifying Sun 10:45-11:15
Race 2 (102 laps, 300km) Sun 13:40-16:20
Past Winners: Garth Tander / Camercon McConville (Holden VE) 2010 (Race 1)
  Jamie Whincup / Steve Owen (Holden VE) 2010 (Race 2)

 

Tight street circuit confines and guest international drivers make for plenty of carnage!

Located in the heart of the Queensland resort town of Surfers Paradise, the current layout of this temporary circuit came into being in 2010, when event organisers decided to shorten the 4.47-kilometre layout used for the previous two decades when the IndyCars Series used to call the event home.

Now shortened to just under 3 kilometres in length, the new circuit still poses a terrific challenge for drivers.

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The Players and Form Guide

Last year’s running of the ArmorAll Gold Coast 600 saw the event achieve ‘international’ status for the first time when a range of overseas drivers were brought in to join series regulars as their co-drivers for the weekend. The event proved such a success that organisers brought the formula back for 2011, albeit this time expanding the ruling that all 28 cars must field an international driver as a co-driver.

However, some sloppy scheduling issues have resulted in drivers from the FIA World Touring Car Championship and DTM championship being unable to take part this weekend, as their own series have championship rounds happening at Suzuka and Hockenheim, respectively. Here’s hoping they can coordinate their efforts better next time around…

The co-drivers are going to play a crucial role this weekend, particularly in the Team Vodafone camp, where multiple ChampCar titleholder Sebastien Bourdais will be partnering Jamie Whincup, while V8 Supercars championship points leader Craig Lowndes will be joined by former three-time World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx.

While both are among the most successful of all the international drivers here this weekend, Bourdais and Priaulx will have extra pressure on their shoulders, as a single slip-up for either of them could effectively destroy the championship hopes of their respective partners.

For the first time all season (and indeed, five years!) Lowndes finds himself leading the championship battle after team-mate Whincup’s mechanical troubles at the Bathurst 1000. Having come into the Bathurst weekend trailing Whincup by 92 points, the resurgent Lowndes left with a 100-point advantage after finishing second at ‘The Great Race’.

The pair will need to keep an eye out for that race’s winner, Garth Tander, who’s enjoying a late purple patch in his HRT Holden Commodore. The West Australian has an enviable record at Surfers Paradise, with seven race wins to his name on the street circuit. His record is incredibly consistent: he’s finished in the top-two in ten of his last thirteen appearances here!

And while Holden has so far enjoyed a dominant run of results in the 2011 V8 Supercars season, history dictates that Ford could emerge winners here, with the ‘Blue Oval’ having claimed 21 of the 39 races staged here to-date.

 

The final entry list reads as follows:

Team Driver Co-Driver  
1. Holden Racing Team Holden James Courtney Darren Turner GBR
2. Holden Racing Team Holden Garth Tander Ryan Briscoe AUS
3. Tony D’Alberto Racing Ford Tony D’Alberto Vitantonio Liuzzi ITA
4. Stone Brothers Racing Ford Alex Davison Marc Lieb DEU
5. Ford Performance Racing Ford Mark Winterbottom Richard Lyons IRE
6. Ford Performance Racing Ford Will Davison Mika Salo FIN
7. Kelly Racing Holden Todd Kelly Richard Westbrook GBR
8. Brad Jones Racing Holden Jason Bright Stephane Sarrazin FRA
9. Stone Brothers Racing Ford Shane van Gisbergen Emanuele Pirro ITA
11. Kelly Racing Holden Greg Murphy Oliver Gavin GBR
12. Triple F Racing Ford Dean Fiore Gianni Morbidelli ITA
14. Brad Jones Racing Holden Jason Bargwanna Alan Simonsen DEN
15. Kelly Racing Holden Rick Kelly Jörg Bergmeister DEU
16. Kelly Racing Holden David Reynolds Alex Tagliani CDN
17. Dick Johnson Racing Ford Steven Johnson Dirk Müller DEU
18. Dick Johnson Racing Ford James Moffat Joey Hand USA
19. Tekno Autosports Ford Jonathon Webb Gil De Ferran BRZ
21. Britek / Brad Jones Racing Holden Karl Reindler Fabrizio Giovanardi ITA
30. Lucas Dumbrell Holden Warren Luff Marino Franchitti GBR
33. Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Lee Holdsworth Simon Pagenaud FRA
34. Garry Rogers Motorsport Holden Michael Caruso Augusto Farfus BRZ
39. Paul Morris Motorsport Holden Russell Ingall Jan Magnussen DEN
47. Stone Brothers Racing Ford Tim Slade Helio Castroneves BRZ
49. Paul Morris Motorsport Holden Steve Owen Boris Said USA
55. Rod Nash / FPR Ford Paul Dumbrell Christian Klien AUT
61. Walkinshaw Racing Holden Fabian Coulthard Patrick Long USA
88. Triple 8 Race Engineering Holden Jamie Whincup Sebastien Bourdais FRA
888. Triple 8 Race Engineering Holden Craig Lowndes Andy Priaulx GBR

 [Images via Flickr] Flickr]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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