The Supercars Championship heads West this weekend, making the trek to Barbagallo Raceway for the Perth SuperSprint.A short track, Barbagallo is always big on action, something which the category has not been short of this year. Perth rewards the brave and those who push their cars to the limit so expect good racing this weekend.
|Location||Pinjar, Western Australia||Circuit Length||2.423 km / 1.506 mi|
|Opened||1969||First ATCC Event||1973|
|Direction||Clockwise||Lap Record||55.9440 – Jason Bright (2004)|
Originally opened in 1969 as Wanneroo Park, the circuit – located 50 kilometres north of Perth – held a non-championship Australian Grand Prix in 1979, and in 1992 it was renamed Barbagallo raceway in honour of the prominent motorsport identity, Alf Barbagallo, who helped fund major work to improve the circuit.
The seven-turn circuit produces a high-speed and short lap-time of less than a minute for this championship, and it calls on drivers and engineers to ensure they have a well set-up car. The opening section is narrow and twisty, leading on to the hill on the far side of the track. The off-camber Turn 6 feeds the drivers back in the other direction on the track’s longest straight towards the final corner, a 90-degree right-hander at the bottom of a steep hill and a test for the cars.
|2017 Virgin Australian Supercars Championship – Perth SuperSprint|
|Event Dates||05-07 May 2017||Format||SuperSprint|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 12:00-12:45||Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:35-15:20|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 09:15-10:00||Race 7 Qualifying||Sat 11:55-12:10|
|Race 7 (50 laps)||Sat 14:45-15:45||Race 8 Qualifying||Sat 10:55-11:15|
|Race 8 (83 laps)||Sun 14:15-15:45|
Session times quoted in Australian Western Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 8:00)
Rewind to 2016
Last year’s race weekend was packed with action and surprises. A downpour in qualifying meant timing was key, giving Cam Waters his first pole position. Race one was a battle of strategy with everyone starting on the wet tyres but soon changing to slicks. The high degradation of the recently resurfaced track saw drivers struggling for grip. Craig Lowndes was the highest placed driver to pit for a second set of tyres, dropping back in the field but making headway thanks to his younger rubber. In the dying laps he caught up with the leaders, getting past Shane van Gisbergen with three laps to go. A downpour on the final lap almsot caught the field out but the race ended with the Triple Eight cars finishing one-two-three.
Chaz Mostert took pole for Sunday’s race with Saturday winner Lowndes sharing the front row. Lowndes led the race early on until coming in to pit for the first of his three stops. Some cars chose to take a two stop strategy while some opted for a three stop option, utilising fresh rubber on the high degradation surface. Mark Winterbottom and Scott McLaughlin decided on a two stop strategy, though in the final stint it was the Prodrive racer who had to run longer. While Winterbottom had a decent lead over McLaughlin and the rest, his older tyres were hurting his pace. With five laps to go, backmarker Aaren Russell unlapped himself but failed to get totally out of the way of Winterbottom, allowing McLaughlin to close in. The 2015 champion was able to hold off the Volvo driver, taking his first win of the season. Lowndes yet again made another appearance on the podium as van Gisbergen again out-paced Whincup.
The Form Guide
If nothing else, this season has proved keeping your nose clean and accumulating points does pay off. Last year it was Lowndes who performed best over the round though his lack of ultimate pace this year means he’s a dark horse this time around. McLaughlin has done well in the past and is hungry to win with DJR Team Penske, he just needs to be more disciplined to feature at the pointy end. Coulthard has a slim lead over van Gisbergen in the points, making it an all-Kiwi battle at the top. Whincup is winless this year but has been consistent so still features in the top five. Mostert has also been quick here in the past, taking his first ever pole position in 2015. These five drivers will likely be the championship protagonists this year and will be looking to get the lead early on in the year.
|2017 Perth SuperSprint Weather Forecast|
|Friday||14°C – 24°C||Saturday||12°C – 23°C||Sunday||13°C – 26°C|
Images via Red Bull Content Pool, SPR
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