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…
|2011 ARMORALL GOLD COAST 600
|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)|
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.
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:
|1.||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Darren Turner|
|2.||Holden Racing Team||Garth Tander||Ryan Briscoe|
|3.||Tony D’Alberto Racing||Tony D’Alberto||Vitantonio Liuzzi|
|4.||Stone Brothers Racing||Alex Davison||Marc Lieb|
|5.||Ford Performance Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Richard Lyons|
|6.||Ford Performance Racing||Will Davison||Mika Salo|
|7.||Kelly Racing||Todd Kelly||Richard Westbrook|
|8.||Brad Jones Racing||Jason Bright||Stephane Sarrazin|
|9.||Stone Brothers Racing||Shane van Gisbergen||Emanuele Pirro|
|11.||Kelly Racing||Greg Murphy||Oliver Gavin|
|12.||Triple F Racing||Dean Fiore||Gianni Morbidelli|
|14.||Brad Jones Racing||Jason Bargwanna||Alan Simonsen|
|15.||Kelly Racing||Rick Kelly||Jörg Bergmeister|
|16.||Kelly Racing||David Reynolds||Alex Tagliani|
|17.||Dick Johnson Racing||Steven Johnson||Dirk Müller|
|18.||Dick Johnson Racing||James Moffat||Joey Hand|
|19.||Tekno Autosports||Jonathon Webb||Gil De Ferran|
|21.||Britek / Brad Jones Racing||Karl Reindler||Fabrizio Giovanardi|
|30.||Lucas Dumbrell||Warren Luff||Marino Franchitti|
|33.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Lee Holdsworth||Simon Pagenaud|
|34.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Augusto Farfus|
|39.||Paul Morris Motorsport||Russell Ingall||Jan Magnussen|
|47.||Stone Brothers Racing||Tim Slade||Helio Castroneves|
|49.||Paul Morris Motorsport||Steve Owen||Boris Said|
|55.||Rod Nash / FPR||Paul Dumbrell||Christian Klien|
|61.||Walkinshaw Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Patrick Long|
|88.||Triple 8 Race Engineering||Jamie Whincup||Sebastien Bourdais|
|888.||Triple 8 Race Engineering||Craig Lowndes||Andy Priaulx|
[Images via Flickr] Flickr]