The penultimate round of the 2012 V8 Supercars Championship season gets underway this weekend, with the teams heading to rural Victoria’s Winton Raceway for the traditional Winton 300.
It’s a track familiar to much of the grid, with over half of the field calling this their home test circuit, including all of the grid’s Melbourne-based teams. The 3-kilometre venue will see the series return to its usual two-race format, with Saturday seeing a 40-lap race, and Sunday seeing a 67-lap race, with the grid for each race being determined by separate twenty-minute qualifying sessions.
Take a look at our event preview for the Winton 300…
|2012 V8 SUPERCARS WINTON 300
|Date:||16-18 November 2012|
|Venue:||Winotn Motor Raceway, Benalla, Victoria, Australia|
|Lap Length:||2.990km / 1.86 mi|
|Race Lap Record:||1:22.9813, Marcus Marshall (Ford Falcon FG) – 2009|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 09:55-10:25|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 11:30-12:00|
|Free Practice Session 3||Fri 13:30-14:00|
|Free Practice Session 4||Fri 15:00-15:30|
|Race 1 Qualifying Session||Sat 13:25-13:45|
|Race 1 (40 laps, 140km)||Sat 16:05-17:15|
|Race 2 Qualifying Session||Sun 13:00-13:20|
|Race 2 (67 laps, 200km)||Sun 15:35-17:15|
|Past Winners:||Jason Bright (Holden Commodore VE II)||2011 (Race 2)|
|Jamie Whincup (Holden Commodore VE II)||2011 (Race 1)|
|James Courtney (Ford Falcon FG)||2010 (Race 2)|
|James Courtney (Ford Falcon FG)||2010 (Race 1)|
|Craig Lowndes (Ford Falcon FG)||2009 (Race 2)|
|Craig Lowndes (Ford Falcon FG)||2009 (Race 1)|
|Garth Tander (Holden Commodore VE)||2008 (Race 3)|
|Will Davison (Ford Falcon BF)||2008 (Race 2)|
|Jamie Whincup (Ford Falcon BF)||2008 (Race 1)|
The Winton circuit features a good combination of tight, twisty corners and some decent straights for overtaking.
A top speed of 225km/h can be achieved on the main straight. It’s one of the slower tracks on the calendar, and the track’s layout guarantees close racing throughout the field.
Rewinding to 2011
Whincup claimed victory in Saturday’s race, which was his fifth race win for the season in ten starts. After electing to make his pit stop on the fourteenth lap, Whincup managed his tyre wear while the rest of the field failed to cope with fading tyre grip, leaving the TeamVodafone Holden driver to cruise to victory. Lee Holdsworth drove a strong race to bag second place, just 0.03 seconds in front of Steven Johnson after the two drag-raced to the line off the last corner after 40 laps of racing!
Jason Bright claimed an emotional victory on Sunday, using a superior strategy under the threat of rain-heavy clouds that eventually deposited their contents minutes after the chequered flag was unfurled. Whincup finished second, with the final podium spot going to Garth Tander.
But the major highlight of the day was seeing the top-three drivers celebrate with Bright’s Team BOC podium representative, Jason Richards, the former team driver who was himself facing just months to live after a hard battle with cancer. The popular Kiwi was doused in champagne on the podium in what was one of his last appearances in the V8 paddock before he passed away at the end of the year.
Facts, Stats & Predictions
This will be latest time in the year that the V8 Supercars have ever raced at Winton, which traditionally hosts the championship in the first half of the season. The delay is due to a last-minute schedule change from series organisers, who failed to secure another Middle Eastern venue to immediately follow last fortnight’s support races at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which led to Sydney Motorsport Park getting a promotion on the calendar, while Winton was bumped back from its August slot to November.
Scheduling dramas aside, all eyes will be on the championship battle between TeamVodafone’s Jamie Whincup and Ford Performance Racing driver Mark Winterbottom, who remain the only two in the field in contention to win this year’s Drivers’ Championship title.
Winterbottom lies a hefty 296 points behind Whincup in the points race, and if Whincup manages to outscore him here, then the title will be done and dusted before the field gets to Sydney Olympic Park for the season finale in December.
Despite this being a ‘home’ circuit for Winterbottom, ‘Frosty’ has a comparatively poor record here, having never tasted the champagne from the top step of the podium.
It’s impressive that he’s remained in the championship hunt, having not win since Phillips Island in May, but Winterbottom has been a consistent podium finisher this year to continually rack up the points all year long. He’ll need to do better than that this weekend, and rely on Whincup having a few dramas along the way.
And Whincup’s TeamVodafone outfit looks almost certain to claim its fourth Teams’ Championship trophy in five seasons. With it and FPR having dominated proceedings all year – no other team has won a major race this season – TeamVodafone needs to claim 63 points more than FPR to win the crown.
Make sure you visit the RichardsF1.com website throughout the weekend for all the latest news, highlights and gossip from Winton!
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