Let the second half of the V8 Supercars Championship season begin!
We return to the V8 circuit with the classic Coates Hire Ipswich 360 race on the ‘Paperclip’ Queensland Raceway track. The ninth round of the series, with Lowndes and Will Davison nipping at the heels of Championship leader Jamie Whincup, is sure to be a cracker!
Let’s have a look at what we have in store…
|2013 V8 SUPERCARS COATES HIRE IPSWICH 360
|Date:||26-28 July 2013|
|Venue:||Queensland Raceway, Ipswich, Queensland|
|Race Lap Record:||1:10.0874, Russell Ingall (Holden VE Commodore) – 2012|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 13:15-14:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:45-16:00|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 10:15-10:45|
|Race 22 Qualifying||Sat 13:30-13:50|
|Race 22 (20 laps, 60km) – First Leg||Sat 15:40-16:20|
|Race 22 (20 laps, 60km) – Second Leg||Sat 16:45-17:15|
|Race 23 Qualifying||Sun 09:35-09:50|
|Race 24 Qualifying||Sun 10:00-10:15|
|Race 23 (32 laps, 100km)||Sun 13:45-14:30|
|Race 23 (32 laps, 100km)||Sun 16:20-17:05|
|2012 Winners:||Craig Lowndes (Holden VE Commodore)||2012 Race 1|
|Craig Lowndes (Holden VE Commodore)||2012 Race 2|
Lovingly (or not!) dubbed the ‘Paperclip’, this simple U-shaped track isn’t the world’s most exciting circuit, but it definitely offers plenty of overtaking opportunity and chances for excitement. Clockwise, and coming in at 3.12km, its top speed is a decent 255km/h and the open space makes it good spectator viewing.
The Weekend Schedule
The “Switch” race, as it is known to locals, will be the fourth event of the season to utilise the 60/60 Super Sprint format for 2013. Saturday’s race will be run in two halves of 60km each, separated by a 15 minute break. Sunday’s two 100km sprint races will include the Nascar style double file rolling restart that the drivers are now getting used to.
The teams will be on soft tyres, so the opportunity to focus their strategy will be important (a change from the previous race’s requirement to use both tyre compounds). The practice sessions on Friday will be an important part of getting used to the softer set ups.
The cars will also weigh an extra 10kg all round this race, coming in at 1410kg. V8 Supercars has raised the minimum weight limit, due to the fact that several of the team struggled significantly to control their figurative waistlines. Erebus, Ford and Nissan in particular all struggled to get to the 1400kg limit of previous years.
"In terms of what it would have cost the teams who were over-weight to come back to the minimum weight – and they could have – it would have been thousands and thousands of dollars," said Damien White, V8 Supercars general manager for motorsport.
Ford Performance Racing’s Team Principal, Tim Edwards, supported the move.
"It is the right thing for the category because two of the marques are just inherently cars because they don’t have aluminium panels et cetera… it’s just about a bit of parity in the category really,” he said.
On the other hand, Brad Jones Racing, one of the few teams who were able to weigh in at less than the 1400kg limit, were not as happy.
“From a team owner perspective I am not that keen for the weight to increase,” owner Brad Jones said. He would have preferred it include 5kg in the driver seat combination, to make it easier for those with heavier drivers.
One cannot talk about the Championship without talking about the battle for first place between Jamie Whincup and his veteran teammate, Craig Lowndes. Lowndes is now only 111 points behind his counterpart –sniffing distance – and he is feeling the itch.
“I’m really looking forward to the back half of the season and hopefully, as we’ve done in the last couple of years, we’ll be able to get some momentum started and put a bit of pressure on come Homebush.”
Considering Lowndes has been unbeaten on this Queensland track over the last two years, it may be a good start to the second half of the year.
“Yep, we’re going for the three-peat,” he joked.
“We’ve had a great run there these past few years and after testing last week there’s no reason to think we’re not in with a shot. We’re back on the soft tyres all weekend, which has worked well for us in the past and I think after a few things we learned from Townsville, we’re in pretty good shape. I can’t wait for the weekend.”
His weakness in qualifying will need to be addressed if there are going to be true changes however. His current qualifying average is 6.3, while Whincup’s is at 3.8 (and was at 2.6 prior to Townsville!).
“We need to make sure we qualify better than we have done,” he acknowledged.
“(But) normally from the halfway point we generally get stronger.”
Even though Red Bull tested at Queensland Raceway last week, they don’t know if it will be enough to fix the set up problems that dogged the team at Townsville.
“I don’t think we’ll find all the solutions from Townsville testing at Queensland Raceway. It’s not that easy,” said Red Bull Racing Australia’s technical director Ludo Lacroix.
“Today we’ve had to focus on the bigger picture of putting parts on the car and trying to make them work for the next race.”