After a month’s break for the winter, the 2011 V8 Supercars Championship season resumes action once again, with the teams heading to the west of Brisbane for the Ipswich 300 and Queensland Raceway.
The teams have had plenty of time to recharge and take a rethink after the first half of the season, and the with the championship battle becoming ever closer, this weekend’s unusual three-race format will prove very demanding.
Richard’s F1 previews this weekend’s action and takes a look at some of the talking points leading into this weekend…
|2011 COATES HIRE IPSWICH 300
|Date:||19-21 August 2011||Lap Length:||3.120km|
|Race Lap Record:||1:10.5896, James Courtney (Ford Falcon FG) – 2010|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:30-11:00|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 12:20-12:50|
|Free Practice Session 3||Fri 13:40-14:10|
|Free Practice Session 4||Fri 15:20-15:50|
|Race 1 Qualifying||Sat 12:00-12:20|
|Race 1 (22 laps, 69km)||Sat 15:15-15:45|
|Race 2 (22 laps, 69km)||Sat 16:15-16:45|
|Race 2 Qualifying||Sun 11:20-11:40|
|Race 2 (69 laps, 215km)||Sun 15:05-17:15|
Nicknamed “the paperclip” by many in the industry, Queensland Raceway is located near the town of Ipswich, which lies to the west of Brisbane.
Quite possibly one of the least imaginative circuit designs out there, it is sited on a pancake-flat area of land, with raised surrounds and earth banks proving ideal vantage points for the spectators that flock here.
One of the quickest tracks on the calendar, the circuit’s layout is murder to the left-rear tyre, with the first two corners (both high-speed right-handers) placing huge strain on tyre wear.
The layout is also conducive to overtaking, with the runs to Turns 3, 4 and 6 proving to be popular passing spots.
A major accident in one of the support races last year has raised questions about the overall safety of the venue, which has played host to some mighty accidents in the main category in the past. The venue is in dire need of major resurfacing work, and the surrounding area was badly hit by the major floods that swept south-east Queensland earlier in the year.
A look back at 2010
Last year’s event at Queensland Raceway marked the first time that Dunlop’s soft tyre would be used for an entire race weekend as the sole dry-weather tyre, and it marked one of the major turning points in James Courtney declaring himself as a major championship challenger.
The Dick Johnson Racing driver dominated both races to claim the maximum 300 points on offer, with Craig Lowndes finishing in second place and Shane van Gisbergen claiming the final podium spot on Saturday.
Major championship challenger Jamie Whincup was sidelined with an engine failure in the second race, leaving Garth Tander to finish second, while van Gisbergen made it back-to-back podiums with another third place.
The Form Guide
This weekend sees a return to the three-race format once again, although it will present a significant change in format from the last three-race weekend, held at Perth earlier this year.
The first of Saturday’s two 22-lap races will have its grid order determined by a 20-minute qualifying session held earlier that day, while the second 22-lap race will have its starting order determined by the finishing order of the first race.
More importantly, the teams will be given just fifteen minutes to turn their cars around in preparation for the second race. The normal championship points’ allocation will be split over both races, meaning that a maximum of 75 points is awarded to the winner of each race.
Normal service will resume on Sunday’s with its 65-lap race preceded by a 20-minute qualifying session. A maximum of 150 points is available to the race winner.
As was the case in 2010, Dunlop’s soft tyre will be the only dry-weather compound on offer this weekend, and this will please championship points’ leader Jamie Whincup no end. The Team Vodafone driver has finished on the podium in six of the eight all-soft-tyre races held to-date in 2011.
Interestingly, the venue is not one that could be considered one of Whincup’s more favoured circuits, and this is rather a them up and down the grid when one looks at Queensland Raceway, which is a circuit where some drivers have typically excelled, while others have continuously struggled.
Garth Tander (Holden Racing Team) and Russell Ingall (SuperCheap Auto Racing) have undoubtedly the best record here. Of the 26 championship races held here to-date since the circuit made its first appearance on the V8 Supercars calendar in 1999, Ingall has finished outside the top-ten on just three occasions, while Tander has just four.
Conversely, Jason Bargwanna (Jana Living Racing) has never achieved a top-ten qualifying result here, while Greg Murphy (Pepsi Max Crew) hasn’t qualified inside the top-ten here since 2005. Paul Dumbrell (Bottle-O Racing) – who announced his retirement last week – hasn’t qualified any higher than fifteenth here!
Make sure you stay tuned to the Richard’s F1 website this weekend for the latest news and results in this championship series!
[Images via Flickr]