The seventh round of the 2012 V8 Supercars Championship season gets underway this weekend, with the teams heading to Queensland for the first time this year for the Sucrogen 400 on the streets of Townsville.
And with the last round at Darwin throwing up a few surprise performances that have kept the championship battle nice and open, we could well be in for another exciting instalment this weekend.
Let’s take a look at our complete event preview…
|2012 V8 SUPERCARS SURCOGEN TOWNSVILLE 400
|Date:||6-8 July 2012|
|Venue:||Red Park, Townsville, Queensland|
|Race Lap Record:||1:13.4160, Lee Holdsworth (Holden Commodore VE II) – 2011|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1 (lower 50% in points table)||Fri 10:30-11:00|
|Free Practice Session 2 (all Championship Drivers)||Fri 11:40-12:10|
|Free Practice Session 3 (all Championship Drivers)||Fri 12:55-13:25|
|Free Practice Session 4 (all Championship Drivers)||Fri 14:35-15:05|
|Race 1 Qualifying||Sat 11:20-11:40|
|Race 1 Qualifying (Top 10 Shootout)||Sat 13:10-13:40|
|Race 1 (72 laps, 200km)||Sat 15:35-17:15|
|Race 2 Qualifying||Sun 12:35-12:55|
|Race 2 (72 laps, 200km)||Sun 15:35-17:15|
|2011 Winners:||Garth Tander (Holden Commodore VE)||2011 Race 1|
|Jamie Whincup (Holden Commodore VE||2011 Race 2|
Located just south of Townsville’s city centre, the temporary street circuit navigates its way through the picturesque Reid Park. The clockwise layout uses a mix of everyday thoroughfares and purpose-built stretches of tarmac.
In many ways, the track is quite reminiscent of Melbourne’s Albert Park Grand Prix circuit, with Turns 2 and 11 representing the best overtaking opportunities on the 2.86km layout.
Rewinding to 2011
Saturday’s race saw Toll Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander continued his streak of podium finishes by claiming victory in the opening 200-kilometre race. Jamie Whincup finished second, followed by Will Davison who hung on for third place after an intense final-lap battle with Craig Lowndes.
Starting from eighth, Whincup gained several positions in the first stint and despite having to wait behind Lowndes during his second pit stop, he managed to take the race lead with less than 10 laps remaining. Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom rounded out the podium after fighting inside the top five all race.
Facts, Stats & Predictions
Undoubtedly the biggest news item heading into this weekend’s race event is the announcement that former F1 World Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve will make his return to the V8 Supercars Championship. The French-Canadian will replace the injured Greg Murphy in the #51 Pepsi Max Crew Holden Commodore run by the Kelly Racing stable.
Villeneuve’s last V8 Supercars outing came at the 2010 ArmorAll Gold Coast 600 at Sufers Paradise, where he paired up with Paul Dumbrell in his The Bottle-O Racing Ford Falcon. Villeneuve was competitive throughout, although a little overexcited at the start of the opening race, triggering a first-lap accident that resulted in extensive damage to his car. While the pair finished only 22nd in that race, they finished an excellent fifth after an incident-free Race 2.
Despite only being a recent addition to the V8 Supercars Championship calendar, the Townsville circuit is one that favours a selection of drivers at the expense of others.
One driver who enjoys a formidable record here is Garth Tander, who has so far been winless this year in the #2 TOLL Holden Racing Team Commodore. Nonetheless, the West Australian has finished on the podium here in five of the six races held here to-date, including his win here in the opening race last year. He’s also the only driver in the field to have qualified inside the top-five on each occasion he’s raced here.
He’ll have to overcome the red hot form of championship leader Jamie Whincup, who returned to the top of the championship standings last time out at Darwin. Although he enjoys a tiny points lead over main rivals Will Davison (38 points) and Mark Winterbottom (49 points), his record here is comparable to Tander’s. Whincup has also claimed five podium finishes here, and won Race 2 here in 2011.
In all, it looks set to be an action-packed weekend – make sure you keep visiting RichardsF1.com for all of the latest news and analysis from Townsville!