2013 Tasmania 365 Preview

Not too far from the picturesque town of Launceston, Tasmania lies the scene of the next V8 Supercar series showdown, the Symmons Plains Raceway. The short racetrack will be hosting Race 3, 4 and 5 of the Championship, the Tasmania Microsoft Office 365.

This weekend will be the first time the series will host the new 60/60 Super Sprint race format, which is designed for more exciting racing – perhaps V8’s version of 20/20 cricket.

It could also prove to be a historic race for Craig Lowndes, who if he wins, will break Mark Skaife’s all time record of 91 race wins. Skaife has in fact asked permission from Channel 7 to leave the commentary box early and be the first to congratulate the driver if he does manage the feat.

Let’s hope for a big weekend of exciting racing then! Don’t know what to expect? Continue reading below…

The Circuit

Symmons Plains Raceway Circuit Map
Date: 5-7 April 2013
Venue: Symmons Plains Raceway, near Launceston, Tasmania
Lap Length: 2.410km
Race Lap Record: 51.4713s, Rick Kelly (Holden Commodore VE) – 2009
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session 1 (lower 50% in points table) Fri 11:00-11:30
Free Practice Session 2 (all drivers) Fri 12:15-12:45
Free Practice Session 3 (all drivers) Fri 13:30-14:00
Free Practice Session 4  (all drivers) Sat 09:35-10:05
Race 1 Qualifying Sat 11:50-12:10
  Race 1 Heat 1 (25 laps, 60km) Sat 14:45-15:15
Race 1 Heat 2 (25 laps, 60km) Sat 15:40-16:10
Race 2 Qualifying Sun 10:10-10:25
  Race 2 Qualifying Top-10 Shootout Sun 10:35-10:50
Race 2 (42 laps, 100km) Sun 14:05-14:50
  Race 3 (42 laps, 100km) Sun 16:30-17:15
Past Winners: Will Davison (Ford Falcon FG) 2012 (Race 1)
Jamie Whincup (Holden Commodore VE) 2012 (Race 2)

The Symmons Plains circuit is a short and narrow strip at 2.41km, on which drivers will be clocking an average speed of 167km/h. The top speed is usually around the 270km/h mark, however the fast track is quite hard on brakes and we will see a lot of middle pedal action over the weekend.

The best overtaking spots are the notoriously slow and tight hairpin at turn four, known as Brambles hairpin, as well as the left turn at the end of the back straight. As one of the slowest turns (if not the slowest), it is proving a concern for a few of the series newcomers, including Nissan, as explained below.

Rewinding to 2012

The 2012 event was run in a two-race format, and the Ford Performance Racing duo of Will Davison and Mark Winterbottom claimed a team 1-2 after a late-race scrap for the lead in Saturday’s 59-lap race.

Polesitter Winterbottom had been shuffled down to third place in the opening laps, and used the compulsory pit stop to leapfrog ahead of second-placed Jamie Whincup in the TeamVodafone Holden.

Winterbottom then set about chasing down his teammate, who started to lose pace as a right-leg cramp set in, but he was ultimately unable to find a way past. The pair crossed the finish line 0.6 seconds apart, while Whincup fended off a late-race challenge from Shane van Gisbergen in the Stone Brothers Ford.

Sunday’s race was staged over 84 laps, and Whincup merrily won is despite suffering a dramatic spin in the early stages of the race.

Teammate and polesitter Craig Lowndes led the early proceedings before the first round of pit stops, but he suffered a rare blunder shortly after, tagging new leader Davison at the hairpin and breaking his front-left suspension.

Davison struggled with the handling of his car thereafter, and surrendered the lead to Winterbottom and Whincup, who head recovered from his earlier spin and was now chasing down the Ford.

A new racing format

The new and exciting Super Sprint format, debuting at Tasmania the Saturday, consists of two separate 60km halves, with a 15 min half time break. Sunday’s schedule includes two 100km races (all with no refuelling).

With the Super Sprint format, the grid position during the first half will be decided by qualifying, while the position on the second half depends on the car’s position at half time.

The field will have to tackle side-by-side restarts this weekend...The second half of the race will also see a side by side rolling start, and points and podium results will be awarded after this race.

With the short length of this track and the high risk of small mistakes sending drivers to the middle or back of the pack, this format will definitely spice things up and hopefully provide some interesting racing and results.

The format has been a talking point among the drivers for some time now.

“I’m not sure how the double file re-starts will go, especially at Symmons Plains where the front straight is like one big corner and not a whole lot of room to manoeuvre into Turn 1 and 2. That could provide some action, but hopefully we’re in front of that,” James Moffat, driver for Team Norton Nissan said.

“The format is going to be interesting,” added Ford Performance Racing driver Mark Winterbottom.

“The fact we stop mid-race on Saturday and then do the rolling re-start poses a lot of unknowns. It will be trial and error for everyone and there has been a lot of talk around the new 60/60 Super Sprint so until we do it we can’t really judge how it changes the racing.”

Facts, Stats & Predictions

It must be said that Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes, given their form in the previous two races and their history on this track are sure favourites to take out this weekend’s podium. Given the track though and the new style of racing on Saturday however, anything is possible.

The Symmons Plain’s meet should also provide an opportunity for a few of the manufacturers to either consolidate or improve their position. Ford Performance Racing for example, need to better their performance of the season so far, with Will Davison frustrated at his team for only having one place in the top 14 in the table. The Nissan Altimas, having done well in the first two races, are concerned about the effect of the Symmond Plains hairpin (the slowest corner on the calendar) on their capacity to race well.

How will the field cope on the slowest corner on the V8 Supercars calendar?“The thing that is probably worrying me the most is the hairpin at Symmons Plains,” confirmed Nissan Motorsport team co-owner, technical director and driver Todd Kelly.

V8 Supercars reports that Kelly even suggested the perfect lap in qualifying would struggle to net a top 10 time for the new Altimas because the Nissan VK56DE V8 engine is lacking the meaty torque curve of its Ford and Chev push-rod rivals.

The horsepower deficit in general is likely to hurt both newcomers, with the track consisting of a number of long straights and requiring all and any extra power. The underpowered Nissan and Erebus AMGs are likely to take some pain…

Another issue of note includes the possibility of carnage with the second half of the Super Sprint’s rolling start. This is even more of an issue this week with the back to back races across the seas as explained in our previous story. If a car is too damaged over this weekend, it might be more than just one race the team will have to forgo…

In all, it looks set to be an action-packed and intriguing weekend in Tasmania – make sure you keep visiting RichardsF1.com for all of the latest news and analysis from Tasmania!

Youth Without Borders

Yassmin Abdel-Magied
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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.