Having won all but two of the last eleven races, the question on everyone’s mind will be whether Prodrive Racing can be overhauled at this weekend’s Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint round.
|2015 V8 Supercars Championship – Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint|
|Date||31 Jul – 02 Aug 2015||Lap Length||3.120km|
|Free Practice Session 0*||Fri 10:10-10:40||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:55-11:55|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 13:05-14:05||Free Practice Session 3||Sat 10:00-10:15|
|Qualifying – Race 18||Sat 11:50-12:00||Qualifying – Race 19||Sat 12:15-12:25|
|Race 18 (20 laps)||Sat 14:25-15:00||Race 19 (20 laps)||Sat 16:30-17:05|
|Qualifying – Race 20||Sun 12:00-12:20||Race 20 (65 laps)||Sat 14:10-15:40|
* Open to Pirtek Enduro Cup co-drivers only
Session times quoted in Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT +10:00)
If we are to be honest, it probably isn’t the most loved track of the season, dubbed the ‘Paperclip’ because of its relatively simple six turn design and lack of elevation. Furthermore, the changing temperatures cause all manner of difficulties for the teams as the grip levels change throughout the day. Tyre wear – particular on the left-rears, which take a punishment here – is also a major concern.
It must be said: though it is fairly simple, there is usually relatively entertaining racing. Turns 1, 3, 4 and 6 (most of the turns!) provide pretty good overtaking opportunities and a great spectacle. The 3.12 km track averages about 162 km/hr speeds, with a top speed of about 255km/hr. Good spectator views are also a bonus.
Rewind to 2014
Last year’s event – named the Ipswich 400 – saw the championship lead change hands to its ultimate victor, with Jamie Whincup moving ahead of Mark Winterbottom thanks to winning both Saturday sprint races ahead of teammate Craig Lowndes.
Lowndes had started from pole position for the first race, but Whincup managed to overtake the veteran late in the race. Scott McLaughlin completed the podium in his Polestar Volvo S60.
McLaughlin had claimed pole position for Saturday’s second race, which he led off the line ahead of Michael Caruso’s Nissan. Later in the race, Caruso attempted to pass McLaughlin for the lead at the final corner, but only succeeded in punting McLaughlin into a spin and earning a drive-through penalty. Their contact meant that Whincup would inherit the lead from Lowndes, while Chaz Mostert finished in third place.
Caruso’s teammate James Moffat claimed a shock pole position for Sunday’s feature race, both his first career pole and the first for Nissan since its return to touring car racing. He didn’t have the race pace to back up his one-lap speed and eventually slipped to fifth place after failing in a wild last-lap lunge on Mostert while the pair battled for third.
HRT’s James Courtney won the Sunday encounter, ahead of Lowndes and Mostert, while the young Scott Pye claimed a career-best fourth for Dick Johnson Racing. Whincup finished sixth to consolidate his championship lead, while Winterbottom’s poor weekend ended with a puncture that dropped him to 22nd place.
Facts & Stats
- While championship leader Mark Winterbottom might be enjoying a long-standing lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship standings, he will need to deliver his ‘A’ game this weekend at a circuit where he has not enjoyed good form in recent years. He has won twice here, although the second of those wins came way back in 2008. Qualifying is not a strong suit here either; his only pole position came in 2009, and he’s had just one front-row start here since.
- The most successful team at Queensland Raceway is the Triple Eight Racing squad, which has claimed ten victories overall. Its drivers Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup have won eight of the last eleven races to be held here between 2011-2014.
- Series veteran Craig Lowndes is the most successful driver overall at Queensland Raceway, with eleven of his 100 overall race wins claimed at this circuit. He and fellow Holden runner Garth Tander are the only two drivers in the field to have contested every race held here since the circuit’s debut in 1999; Tander is the venue’s second most-successful driver with five race wins.
- Three of the last four races to be held at Queensland Raceway have had pole position decided by less than five-hundredths of a second. Qualifying well is often a guarantee of a good race result; 21 of the last 26 races to be held here since 2004 have been won by a driver starting on the front row of the grid.
- Queensland Raceway acts as a home circuit for a number of teams, one of which will be chalking up its 150th race. TEKNO Autosports will achieve the feat in Saturday’s first Sprint Race.
- SuperCheap Auto Racing driver Tim Slade will chalk up his 200th race start in Saturday’s second Sprint Race. The South Australian driver is yet to achieve a race victory during this time.
The Form Guide
The dominance of Prodrive Racing has seen a number of rival outfits question whether there is proper aero parity across the rest of the field in comparison to the seemingly unconquerable Ford Falcon FG X. V8 Supercars officialdom has rejected these claims, and instead that’s thrown the impetus on the rest of the paddock to lift its game.
Queensland Raceway has historically not been a very happy hunting ground for the squad, however, with just two race wins since the V8 Supercars’ inaugural visit in 1999.
The most likely challenge will be from the Red Bull Racing stable – winners here in eight of the last eleven races – which will hope that a recent engineering team reshuffle will revive the glory days of 2014. The team’s biggest problem has been a lack of consistency in their cars’ pace; a home ground advantage might cut the deficit, but it also might not be enough.
Images via V8 Supercars Championship