Coming back from the wild West, the Supercars Championship turns up in Ned Kelly country at the Winton circuit. Located in country Victoria, Winton is the “home track” for most of the Melbourne based teams and Brad Jones Racing who are up the road in Albury. A technical track, driving a Supercar around here is “like running a marathon out of your clothesline” according to Dick Johnson.
|Winton Motor Raceway|
|Location||Benalla, Victoria||Circuit Length||3.000 km / 1.864 mi|
|Opened||1961||First ATCC Event||1985|
|Direction||Clockwise||Lap Record||1:18.7603 – Chaz Mostert (2016)|
Self-described as ‘the nation’s Action Track’, Winton Raceway’s tight and twisty rural layout is actually the slowest circuit on the entire Supercars calendar.
With twelve corners in all separated by a succession of short straights, one might think that the track would prove tough to overtake on, but that’s actually far from the case.
A top speed of 225km/h can be achieved on the main straight, but the pack has to treat the opening sequence of corners with great care on the first lap. It’s not unusual to see plenty of carnage as the field tries to switchback its way through the Turn 1/2 complex.
|2017 Virgin Australian Supercars Championship – Winton SuperSprint|
|Event Dates||19-21 May 2017||Format||SuperSprint|
|Co-Driver Practice||Fri 10:50-11:20||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 12:35-13:20|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:40-15:25||Free Practice Session 3||Sat 10:50-11:35|
|Race 9 Qualifying||Sat 13:25-13:40||Race 9 (40 laps)||Sat 16:00-17:10|
|Race 10 Qualifying||Sun 11:00-11:20||Race 10 (67 laps)||Sun 13:45-15:45|
Session times quoted in Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 10:00)
Rewind to 2016
Last year’s round was one to remember for BJR and Tim Slade. Scoring pole in race one, he got the jump off the line from Scott McLaughlin. Slade had genuine pace and put a gap on McLaughlin, pitting first and retaining the lead after everyone took their compulsory pit-stops. On the run to turn five, contact was made between Cam Waters and James Courtney, the former ending up off the road and losing the most positions. At the fron,t Slade pulled out a four second gap to take the win, his first ever after 227 race starts.
While Chaz Mostert won pole position for Sunday’s race, Fabian Coulthard had the better run to one, followed by Mostert and Craig Lowndes. Mostert took a very early stop on lap two followed by Lowndes on lap four. Coulthard and Slade stopped later, going for shorter fills at the end. A safety car bunched the pack up, detrimental to Mostert who made a fumbled pass on Courtney, causing a puncture for the former and damage for the latter. After the final round of stops, it was Slade who emerged as the leader from Winterbottom and Van Gisbergen. Again he was able to pull out a lead as he had on Saturday, going on to take the victory by 6.7 seconds ahead of Winterbottom and Coulthard.
The Form Guide
Heading in to Winton, the top five in the standings are split by just 31 points, reflecting the incredibly good racing which we have seen so far this year. Craig Lowndes enters with the knowledge he’ll be around for at least two more years full-time, somewhat of a shock given his recent performances. Walkinshaw Racing underwent a big shake-up post Perth with Adrian Burgess leaving the team effective immediately. Many believe Burgess shouldn’t have been shown the door, instead someone higher up the food chain.
Taz Douglas returns to the LDM #3 car in place of Matt Brabham who is preparing for the Indianapolis 500. Douglas is a strong and consistent addition to the team, providing experience and help to Alex Rullo. Being on the verge of winter, rain is very likely for the weekend. Most of the top five in the points are great wet weather drivers. McLaughlin has always been decent, as has Van Gisbergen but Mostert’s wet weather skills have often been overlooked. Expect a good battle at the front on the wet and newly resurfaced track.
|2017 Winton SuperSprint Weather Forecast|
|Friday||11°C – 17°C||Saturday||7°C – 17°C||Sunday||6°C – 18°C|
Images via Motorsport.com, WRX
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