The Surfers Paradise street circuit is all about balancing risk and reward, and will serve as a fitting finale to the Pirtek Enduro Cup leg of the V8 Supercars Championship this weekend.
|2015 V8 Supercars Championship – Castrol Gold Coast 600|
|Date||23-25 October 2015||Lap Length||2.980km|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 09:30-10:00||Free Practice Session 2*||Fri 11:45-12:15|
|Free Practice Session 3*||Fri 13:20-13:50||Free Practice Session 4||Fri 15:05-15:35|
|Race 26 Qualifying||Sat 10:00-10:20||Top-10 Shootout (Race 26)||Sat 11:20-11:50|
|Race 26 (102 laps)||Sat 14:30-17:00||Race 27 Qualifying||Sun 11:55-12:15|
|Race 27 (102 laps)||Sun 14:30-17:00|
* Open to Pirtek Enduro Cup co-drivers only
Session times quoted in Australian Eastern Time (GMT +10:00)
The Gold Coast, affectionately known by locals as the “Goldie” is the perfect beachside location for this high speed, adrenalin pumping street circuit.
The circuit is based in the heart of Surfers Paradise and is a shortened version of the previous IndyCar layout. Now sitting at just shy of three kilometres in length, the drivers reach top speeds of 265 km/hr and average around 146 km/hr as they make their anticlockwise way around the track.
Past races have always produced plenty of carnage, particularly when drivers don’t show the patience and finesse required for victory. The co-drivers will have to tread carefully to ensure they can hand the cars over the main drivers with all wheels and panels undamaged.
Rewind to 2014
Last year’s Gold Coast 600 saw Jamie Whincup further extend his championship lead on his path to a sixth Drivers’ Championship title.
Whincup and co-driver Paul Dumbrell finished runner-up in Saturday’s 300-kilometre race before going one better on Sunday with victory. The result also ensured that the pair easily secured the Pirtek Enduro Cup title thanks to a troubled weekend for Bathurst 1000 victors Chaz Mostert and Paul Morris.
Saturday’s race saw street circuit aces Shane van Gisbergen and co-driver Jonathon Webb win from pole position in their TEKNO Autosports Holden, but the duo failed to manage a clean sweep of the weekend when they incurred a drive-through penalty in Sunday’s race.
Whincup’s championship rivals had difficult weekends. Ford’s Mark Winterbottom was demoted from the podium in Saturday’s race after he was found to have bumped and passed Tim Slade at the final corner on the last lap. He then suffered an engine problem late in Sunday’s race, with the nightmare compounded when he was pitched into a spin by Russell Ingall.
Whincup’s teammate Craig Lowndes also fell into strife, copping damage in Saturday’s race and then falling victim to poor pit strategy on Sunday.
|2015 V8 Supercars Championship – Gold Coast 600 Driver Pairings|
|#||Team / Entry||Lead Driver||Co-Driver|
|1.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Jamie Whincup||Paul Dumbrell|
|2.||Red Bull Racing Australia||Garth Tander||Warren Luff|
|3.||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Tim Blanchard||Karl Reindler|
|4.||Erebus Motorsport V8||Ashley Walsh||Jack Le Brocq|
|5.||Prodrive Racing Australia||Mark Winterbottom||Steve Owen|
|6.||Prodrive Racing Australia||Russell Ingall||Cameron Waters|
|7.||Nissan Motorsport||Todd Kelly||Alex Buncombe|
|8.||Brad Jones Racing||Jason Bright||Andrew Jones|
|9.||Erebus Motorsport V8||Will Davison||Alex Davison|
|14.||Brad Jones Racing||Fabian Coulthard||Luke Youlden|
|15.||Nissan Motorsport||Rick Kelly||David Russell|
|17.||DJR Team Penske||Scott Pye||Marcos Ambrose|
|18.||Charlie Schwerkolt Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Sébastien Bourdais|
|21.||Brad Jones Racing||Dale Wood||Macauley Jones|
|22.||Holden Racing Team||James Courtney||Jack Perkins|
|23.||Nissan Motorsport||Michael Caruso||Dean Fiore|
|33.||Volvo Polestar Racing||Scott McLaughlin||Alexandre Prémat|
|34.||Volvo Polestar Racing||David Wall||Chris Pither|
|47.||Walkinshaw Racing||Tim Slade||Tony D’Alberto|
|55.||Rod Nash Racing||David Reynolds||Dean Canto|
|97.||TEKNO Autosports||Shane van Gisbergen||Jonathon Webb|
|99.||Nissan Motorsport||James Moffat||Taz Douglas|
|111.||Super Black Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Ant Pedersen|
|222.||Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport||Nick Percat||Oliver Gavin|
|888.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Craig Lowndes||Steven Richards|
Facts & Stats
- Saturday’s race will be the 900th race in the history of the Australian Touring Car Championship / V8 Supercars Championship.
- It will also mark 100 races under the current ‘Car of the Future’ regulations. With 40 wins, Red Bull Racing has the lion’s share of success under the current technical regulations, with Prodrive Racing (formerly Ford Performance Racing) next up with 27 race victories.
- ‘Super sub’ Russell Ingall will become the first driver in Australian touring car history to compete 250 event rounds when he takes part in this weekend’s Gold Coast 600. Having moved across to Prodrive Racing, it will mark Ingall’s first race in a Ford Falcon since his last outing for Stone Brothers Racing at Phillip Island in 2007.
- Another driver chalking up a career milestone is Team BOC’s Jason Bright, who will make his 226th round participation this weekend. Bright will move to equal-fourth on the all-time list alongside John Bowe.
- Nissan Motorsport’s Todd Kelly will achieve a similar milestone, making his 212th round appearance, moving to equal-seventh on the all-time list alongside Peter Brock.
- Bathurst 1000 victor Craig Lowndes will chalk up his 150th round appearance for Triple Eight Race Engineering at this weekend’s Gold Coast 600; he made his debut with the team at the 2005 Clipsal 500 in Adelaide.
- Erebus Motorsport V8 will mark its 100th race start at the Gold Coast 600, having made its championship debut in 2013 after its buyout of Stone Brothers Racing.
- Qualifying is an all-important predictor of success at Surfers Paradise. No driver has ever won a race at this circuit starting from outside the top-six on the grid.
The Form Guide
Many drivers have found themselves come unstuck around the concrete-lined Surfers Paradise street circuit, and this year’s venue could prove pivotal to determining the outcome of the 2015 championship season.
While Prodrive Racing’s momentum has been momentarily slowed with Red Bull Racing sweeping to victory at the Bathurst 1000, its stop-start layout should play back into the hands of the field’s Ford Falcons.
Series leader Mark Winterbottom should be the chief beneficiary thanks to both his car’s outstanding handling characteristics and the unfortunate absence of Prodrive teammate Chaz Mostert, who could be out for the rest of the season depending on how long his recovery from a broken leg and wrist takes.
Either way, Mostert’s championship hopes are dead in the water, leaving Bathurst 1000 winner Craig Lowndes – who is a hefty 399 points in arrears – as Winterbottom’s closest challenger. With a maximum of 300 points up for grabs this weekend, ‘Frosty’ will remain in the title lead regardless of how his weekend pans out, although he can ill afford a repeat of last year’s event where he haemorrhaged 102 points to Whincup and all but kissed his slim championship hopes away.
First victory at Sandown and a second-placed finish at Bathurst, Winterbottom and co-driver Steve Owen also lead the Pirtek Enduro Cup points’ race, with a 78-point advantage to HRT duo Garth Tander and Warren Luff.
There will be plenty of eyes cast towards the sister #6 Prodrive Racing Ford piloted by the all-new combination of Cameron Waters and Russell Ingall, with the latter stepping in as substitute for the injured Mostert.
Ingall, who came out of retirement to join HRT’s ranks as a replacement for the injured James Courtney at Sandown and Bathurst, will have the unique claim to fame of racing for the factory Holden squad and the championship-leading Prodrive outfit in the space of a few weeks.
Their primary focus will be on ensuring that Waters gets plenty of mileage ahead of an expected full-time promotion into the team next year, while also ensuring that Winterbottom’s quest for a maiden title goes on unhindered.
Ingall’s appointment will also ensure focus on Courtney, who returns to the #22 HRT Commodore cockpit for the first time since August’s Sydney Motorsport Park round where he was injured in that freak pit lane accident after Friday’s opening practice session. The former series champion is still nursing the effects of several broken ribs and a punctured lung, but will focus on the rest of the season’s races to prepare himself for another crack at the title next year.
Images via Christian Hartung