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The V8 Supercars return from a month off to Australia’s northern-most race in Hidden Valley, Darwin for the Skycity Triple Crown round. 

The race this weekend comes out of a month of all kind of speculation, including the sad news of the Ford factory’s closure in Australia and the interesting news that Steve Johnson will be racing the Erebus alongside Maro Engel for the endurance rounds this year.  This preceded speculation that Johnson wants to make a full return in racing for 2014…

Anyhow, lots of talk around the place but let’s get down to business!

The Circuit

Hidden Valley Raceway Circuit Map
Date: 14-16 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 Fri 10:25-10:55
Free Practice Session 2 Fri 12:00-12:30
Free Practice Session 3 Fri 13:35-14:05
  Free Practice Session 4 Fri 15:15-15:45
Race 17 Qualifying Sat 11:00-11:20
  Race 17 Qualifying (Top 10 Shootout) Sat 13:00-13:30
Race 17 (21 laps, 60km) – First Leg Sat 15:10-15:50
  Race 17 (21 laps, 60km) – Second Leg Sat 16:05-16:45
  Race 18 Qualifying Sun 09:55-10:10
  Race 19 Qualifying Sun 10:20-10:35
  Race 18 (35 laps, 100km) Sun 13:15-14:05
Race 19 (35 laps, 100km) Sun 15:45-16:35
2012 Winners: Jamie Whincup (Holden Commodore VE) 2012 Race 1
  Craig Lowndes (Holden Commodore VE) 2012 Race 1

Located 10km out of Darwin, the Hidden Valley Raceway is actually part of a larger motorsport complex which includes a drag strip, mud racing, motorcross and go kart circuit!

The track that our V8s will be powering around boasts 14 corners, and includes a 1.1km straight.  The track, 2.87km in total, is quite fast and favours the engines with a few more horses under the bonnet.  The sweeping bends just before the straight gives the drivers something to work with as well.

From an engineering point of view, the track offers quite a lot, says Eric Pender from the #15 Nissan Altima, but having a well balanced car will help immensely. 

"Hidden Valley is a ‘flowing’ circuit, unlike the stop/start of a street track. Good chassis balance is critical to ensure that the driver is comfortable and can drive smoothly to look after the tyres and himself in the heat. The layout also presents a lot of good passing opportunities, so watch for lap times falling away if the driver is defending,” he said in the team’s event preview.

Rewinding to 2012

The Triple Eight Racing stable was utterly dominant here last year, breaking a seven-race sequence of wins enjoyed by their rivals from the Ford Performance Racing camp as Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes claimed a win apiece in the ‘Top End’.

The double-win kicked off an unbroken run of eleven race victories for the two-car outfit, which launched Whincup’s successful bid for another championship title.

Wins for Lowndes and Whincup kicked off an eleven-race winning streak for the Triple Eight Racing team in 2012

Facts, Stats & Predictions

This weekend’s event will be the first of the season where the field will have to run both of Dunlop’s dry-weather tyre compounds in the one race.

Saturday’s 60/60 SuperSprint race will be the sole domain of Dunlop’s Hard tyre, while the action on Sunday will give the teams free use of the Soft and Hard tyres, although both compounds will have to be run in each of the day’s two 100-kilometre races.

The Hidden Valley circuit is particularly abrasive on tyres, and with series organisers electing to reduce the allocation of dry-weather tyres to teams as a cost-saving measure, managing the limited number of tyre sets to see out the weekend could prove a challenge for some.

One major factor will be the Safety Car, which has typically been a feature at the circuit. An appearance by the Pedders STP Chrysler could play havoc with team’s strategies, particularly if their switch from one tyre compound to the other turns out to be mistimed.

While the event is likely to be another battle between the Triple Eight and Brad Jones Racing stables, keep an eye out for the cars from Ford Performance Racing, HRT, Tekno Autosports and possibly even Nissan Motorsport, who all showed improved pace when the field last met at Austin.

Ford, in particular, has been a major player in qualifying at this circuit, claiming every pole position here since 2010.

But the form guide once again says that it will be Whincup who is the firm favourite for race honours this weekend. A winner in five of the last six races so far, the reigning champion has also claimed four of the last five pole positions, and he’s only qualified outside the top three positions on two occasions to-date in 2013.

He and teammate Craig Lowndes shared victories here last year, and with dominant showings at the similarly abrasive Barbagallo and Austin circuits, there’s little reason to suggest that the pair won’t battle it out once again at Hidden Valley.

The event will mark a major milestone for series veteran Russell Ingall – winner of the very first race at Hidden Valley way back in 1998 – who will equal John Bowe’s all-time record of 225 round appearances when he takes to the grid this weekend.

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!

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.