The Sunshine State holds its second Supercars race in a row with the series staying north to race at Queensland Raceway this weekend. The short track is always high on drama and has seen some incredible races in the past.

The Circuit

Queensland Raceway

Queensland Raceway
Location Ipswich, Queensland Circuit Length 3.120 km / 1.950 mi
Opened 1999 First Supercars Event 1999
Direction Clockwise Lap Record 1:09.0747 – Jamie Whincup (2016)

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 track 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-kilometre track averages about 162 km/hr speeds, with a top speed of about 255km/hr. Good spectator views are also a bonus.

The Event

2017 Virgin Australian Supercars Championship – Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint
Event Dates 28-30 July 2017 Format SuperSprint
Co-Driver Practice Session 1 Fri 11:05-11:35 Free Practice Session 1 Fri 12:55-13:40
Free Practice Session 2 Fri 15:00-15:45 Free Practice Session 3 Sat 10:45-11:30
Race 15 Qualifying Sat 13:30-13:45 Race 15 (39 laps) Sat 16:15-17:15
Race 16 Qualifying Sun 11:40-12:00 Race 16 (65 laps) Sun 14:05-15:50

Session times quoted in Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 10:00)

Rewind to 2016

Qualifying for race one saw Kiwi Chris Pither take a shock pole for Prodrive, the first for him and his Super Black Racing team. Stable-mate Chaz Mostert lined up beside him on the front row while the Triple Eight trio of Jamie Whincup, Shane Van Gisbergen and Craig Lowndes completed the top five.

Pither wasn’t able to hold the lead on the first lap after accidentally pushing Mostert wide at turn two, leaving both of them vulnerable to Whincup who passed them both on the opening tour. Lowndes followed suit, moving up to second very quickly and taking his pit stop first. While his team had tried to undercut Whincup, it was unsuccessful. Van Gisbergen went for a long-run strategy, the benefit being a fresher set of tyres at the end of the race. The gamble paid off with the #97 pilot taking the lead with three to go, heading a Triple Eight one-two-three on the podium.

Sunday’s qualifying ended with Whincup taking his second pole of the year ahead of Lowndes. Mostert again qualified well in third with Van Gisbergen alongside him. Mark Winterbottom was held up at the beginning of his final flying lap by Kurt Kostecki, though the defending series champion still qualified fifth.

Lowndes got the best start of the lead bunch, leading on the opening lap with Scott Pye spun by James Courtney shortly after the start of the race. The leaders all pitted within a few laps of each other but Lowndes retained the lead while his team-mates struggled with handling issues in comparison. The second round of pit stops saw Mostert stop the latest of the lead bunch, trying to emulate the strategy of Van Gisbergen the day before to use pace at the end of the race. While he did pass many cars, he couldn’t catch Whincup for second and Lowndes for the win, the 105th and most recent career victory for the three-time champion.

The Form Guide

Scott McLaughlin is the undeniable pole king this year, taking nine out of 14 pole positions this year and securing the championship lead after the first race in Townsville. He is a confidence driver and when his car is set up well, he performs. Mostert and Van Gisbergen have points to prove, wanting to get back in the championship battle after suffering bad luck at different points in the season.

Whincup took his first win of the year in the final race at Townsville and is now only six points behind the championship leader. While it took him a decent amount of time to win a race, he is the best driver on track when everything is going his way and will always be a force to be reckoned with. Fabian Coulthard will be looking to retake the championship lead after a weekend to forget in Townsville.

2017 Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint Weather Forecast
Friday Partly Cloudy 4°C – 26°C Saturday Sunny 2°C – 24°C Sunday Sunny 5°C – 26°C

Images via Red Bull Content Pool, Whiteline Racing

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Jordan Mulach

Journalist at MotorsportM8
Canberra born and raised journalist, living in Brisbane. Sports Media graduate from the University of Canberra. iRacing addict