2012 SkyCity Triple Crown Preview

The sixth round of the 2012 V8 Supercars Championship season gets underway this weekend, with the teams heading to the ‘Top End’ for the SkyCity Triple Crown at Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway.

Will this weekend see another demonstration from Ford Performance Racing, or will another driver or team threaten the factory team’s domination?

Let’s take a look at our complete event preview…

The Circuit

Hidden Valley Raceway Circuit Map
Date: 15-17 June 2012
Venue: Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin, Northern Territory
Lap Length: 2.870km
Race Lap Record: 1:09.0149, Jason Bright (Ford Falcon AU) – 1999
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 (lower 50% in points table) Fri 10:25-10:55
Free Practice Session 2 (all Championship Drivers) Fri 12:00-12:30
Free Practice Session 3 (all Championship Drivers) Fri 13:35-14:05
  Free Practice Session 4 (all Championship Drivers) Fri 15:15-15:45
Race 1 Qualifying Sat 11:00-11:20
  Race 1 Qualifying (Top 10 Shootout) Sat 12:55-13:25
Race 1 (42 laps, 120km) Sat 15:35-16:45
  Race 2 Qualifying Sun 12:40-13:00
Race 2 (69 laps, 200km) Sun 14:00-15:45
2011 Winners: Rick Kelly (Holden Commodore VE) 2011 Race 1
  Shane van Gisbergen (Ford Falcon VE) 2011 Race 1

A 2.9-kilometre anticlockwise circuit located on the fringes of the city of Darwin, Hidden Valley Raceway is known for its high speeds and fast lap-times. It’s been on the V8 Supercars calendar since 1998, and it’s the region’s biggest sporting event all year.

For a V8 Supercar to be quick around here, it needs enough mechanical grip to handle the circuit’s 14 turns, as well as plenty of top-end speed to manage the 1.1-kilometre main straight.

It's easy to lock up into Turn 1 Turn 1 – a left-hand hairpin that tightens as it goes on – is the best spot for overtaking, but the gravel trap lining its outer edge has played host to many drivers who have left their braking far too late in trying to pass a rival. Passing opportunities also exist a Turns 5 and 6, while the rest of the lap is rather more ‘follow the leader’ until the cars hit the start/finish straight once again.

Qualifying is important at Hidden Valley, with over two-thirds of races here being won from the front row.


Rewinding to 2011

A race result at Darwin has historically been dependent on how well you qualified, and a win usually came off the back of securing a qualifying spot on the first two rows of the grid.

Last year’s event completely bucked the trend, with Rick Kelly and Shane van Gisbergen both taking unexpected victories from well down the order – interestingly, both had qualified twelfth on the grid ahead of their respective wins.

Conditions proved surprisingly tricky when it came to managing tyre life, and several runners battled to maintain grip in the softer Dunlop tyres that were on offer.

This year’s race will again see both tyre compounds on offer, so could this lead to more unexpected results in 2012? We’ll have to wait and see…

Facts, Stats & Predictions

This year will mark the fifteenth time that the V8 Supercars Championship has paid a visit to Darwin’s Hidden Valley Raceway, and it remains one of the more unpredictable venues on the championship calendar.

Picking a race winner has proven to be nearly impossible here: the last five races here have seen a different driver atop the podium on each occasion.

Of the current teams, the factory Holden Racing Team enjoys the best record here with fourteen wins, while Stone Brothers Racing and TeamVodafone lag considerably behind with five each.

With four wins to-date at this circuit, the championship-leading Ford Performance team will be looking the most likely to add to its already impressive 2012 tally of nine wins of the eleven races held this year.

Winterbottom has the best record of any driver at Hidden Valley Raceway Out of drivers Will Davison, Mark Winterbottom and David Reynolds, Winterbottom enjoys the best record here, and he’ll be keen to continue closing the championship points gap to team-mate and series leader Davison with another solid display this weekend.

‘Frosty’ has a record here that’s hard to beat. FPR has claimed four of the last seven pole positions here, of which the Sydney-born driver has claimed the lot.

Whincup has won twice here but never claimed pole position The pair’s main championship rival, TeamVodafone’s Jamie Whincup, has won here twice, although incredibly he’s never claimed pole position here.

In the last five races here, he’s qualified on the front row on four occasions, although never from the coveted pole position.

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 Hidden Valley!

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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.