The Championship series takes us to the west coast of Australia this weekend, with the Chilli Perth 360 at the Barbagallo Circuit.
Located 50 km out of Perth in a place named Wanneroo, the 2.42km track will play host to Garth Tander’s 200th start, a push by Ford Performance Racing to shore up their recent successes and a fight for the best tyre management.
It should be a great weekend for the fourth event of the year!
|2013 CHILL PERTH 360
|Date:||3-6 May 2013|
|Venue:||Barbagallo Raceway, Wanneroo, Western Australia|
|Race Lap Record:||55.9440s, Jason Bright (Holden Commodore VY) – 2004|
|Event Schedule*:||Free Practice Session 1 (rookies and lower 50%)||Fri 10:55-11:25|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 12:05-12:35|
|Free Practice Session 3||Fri 13:15-13:45|
|Free Practice Session 4||Sat 09:45-10:15|
|Race 10 Qualifying||Sat 12:05-12:25|
|Race 10 First Half (25 laps, 60km)||Sat 13:45-14:20|
|Race 10 Second Half (25 laps, 60km)||Sat 14:35-15:15|
|Race 11 Qualifying||Sun 09:35-09:50|
|Race 12 Qualifying||Sun 10:00-10:15|
|Race 11 (50 laps, 120km)||Sun 12:05-12:55|
|Race 12 (50 laps, 120km)||Sun 14:25-15:15|
|2011 Winners:||Mark Winterbottom (Ford Falcon FG)||2012 (Race 1)|
|Will Davison (Ford Falcon FG)||2012 (Race 2)|
|Will Davison (Ford Falcon FG)||2012 (Race 3)|
* Times are quoted at WA Standard Time (GMT +8 hours)
A clockwise circuit with seven corners, Barbagallo is all about the tyres. The abrasive track – which was resurfaced in 2004 – is renowned for its long corners (home to the second longest corner in the series), which means the car will be under long periods of lateral load. That is tough on the rubber, says Car Manager for Holden Racing Team #2 Scott Sinclair. Even though it was resurfaced nine years ago, over time the grippy surface has faded and it remains a challenge.
"The track is smooth, especially compared to (last event) Pukekohe, so bump compliance is not usually a significant issue, but with three big braking zones good stability under brakes is very important." Sinclair continued in an interview with V8 Supercars.
Tyres can hit a ‘cliff’ and, given the long loaded corners at Barbagallo, the lap times would be hurt badly when this happens, so we’ll most likely see cars stopping for tyres during Sunday’s two 120km races.
The track opened in 1969 and it is a fast, short sharp track with lap times of less than a minute. The focus on long corners and initial twisty beginning to the track means that the new rear suspension set ups will be thoroughly tested, as well as the general set ups on the car – may the best garage and crew win…
Rewinding to 2012
Known as the Trading Post Perth Challenge in 2012, last year saw quite an exciting weekend with a number of classic-V8 on-track-drama incidents occurring over weekend, as you can see in the below video:
All up, FPR did well in 2012, with Will Davison taking the top podium in Races 2 and 3, while Mark Winterbottom took the first race. Garth Tander and Jamie Whincup had taken pole positions for race one, then two and three respectively.
Davison was initially caught up in a first lap incident during Race 1 but recovered well and through some clever tire strategy was able to build – and hold – his lead during the next two races.
It will be interesting to see how the second Super Sprint race goes however, and whether this will affect tyre strategy. As this is the first Car Of The Future race at Barbagallo, which is known for requiring precision set ups, there are bound to be teething issues…
Facts, Stats & Predictions
The spotlight will be on Ford Performance Racing and Championship leader Will Davison, who has had a good run so far and took FPR’s first win in Auckland.
“We just have to make sure we hold on to what we’ve been doing so far this season – be smart and keep working hard,” Davison said.
“Perth offers up quite a different circuit to where we’ve been so far this year and I think it will be quite challenging as the races are very different and so are the cars."
Further down the field in FPR, David Reynolds and Alex Davison are also looking to improve their performances this weekend. The focus on tyre and tyre-wear is evident in their thinking.
“I’m looking forward to consolidating what was overall a pretty reasonable result in New Zealand,” Reynolds said.
“We definitely need to finish more races and get my points going up as the early part of the year hurt us greatly.
“Barbagallo is all about tyres, especially this year given we are using the soft compound. Reducing the wear rate is paramount to a good result, especially with the format of the races so that is going to be interesting to see how all the teams tackle tyre strategy.”
This year the format will again be the 60/60 Super Sprint format on the Saturday, followed by two 120km races on Sunday. RichardsF1.com reported earlier in the week about the changes to the 60/60 format which will allow drivers who are one lap down in the first 60km race to be included in the lead lap during the second half, hopefully avoiding a repeat of Lowndes’s unfortunate situation at Pekekohe.
Lowndes found himself down a lap early on in the race’s first leg due to a punctured tyre and due to the race format, where the first half is simply a qualifying race for part two, the Commodore driver found it difficult to make up time. The rule change does not apply to drivers who are more than a lap behind the leader, however.
Not to be counted out, rookies such as Scott McLaughlin are never to be counted out, and the ever consistent Lowndes (a thirteen-time winner here) and Tander are forces to be reckoned with.
Speaking of Tander, the local driver will be celebrating his 200th start in his home state this weekend, joining only seven other drivers to reach this auspicious milestone. The ‘200’ club includes John Bowe, Russell Ingall, Mark Skaife, Peter Brock, Glenn Seton, Craig Lowndes and Dick Johnson, an illustrious club indeed!
Tander hasn’t gotten too excited, almost forgetting the milestone.
“To be honest, I didn’t realise it was my 200th start until the team mentioned it to me last week,” Tander said.
“It’s hard to believe it’s come up this fast – I can remember my first event at Phillip Island like it was yesterday.
“It’s an amazing coincidence that such a special occasion falls during my home event. It would be really great to celebrate it by winning some races in front of my family and friends, who have supported me from the very beginning.”
Garth Tander’s career highlights are many, but he is particularly remembered for his three top podium finishes in the Great Race at the Bathurst 1000 (2000, 2009 and 2011) as well as his taking the Championship in 2007.