The Pirtek Enduro Cup wraps up this weekend with the tough and torturous Gold Coast 600, held around the streets of Surfers Paradise.
A now-shortened version of the old CART/ChampCar layout, the tight street circuit provides a different challenge compared to the two other endurance races though the shorter distance doesn’t make it any less difficult.
|Surfers Paradise street circuit|
|Location||Surfers Paradise, Queensland||Circuit Length||2.984 km / 1.854 mi|
|Opened||1991||First ATCC Event||1994|
|Direction||Anticlockwise||Lap Record||1:10.0499 – David Reynolds (2013)|
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.
|2017 Virgin Australian Supercars Championship – Vodafone Gold Coast 600|
|Event Dates||20-22 October 2017||Format||Enduro Cup|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:55-11:25||Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:00-14:30*|
|Free Practice Session 3||Fri 16:55-17:25||Race 21 Qualifying||Sat 11:20-11:40|
|Race 21 (102 laps)||Sat 14:25-16:50||Race 22 Qualifying||Sun 09:45-10:05|
|Top-10 Shootout||Sun 11:40-12:05||Race 22 (102 laps)||Sun 14:25-16:50|
*Denotes co-driver session only
Session times quoted in Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 10:00)
Rewind to 2016
Last year’s race weekend provided action and incidents aplenty. The first race of the two saw high drama late in the running when Garth Tander spun Fabian Coulthard into the pit wall at over 250km/h, the latter lucky to escape injury after the monster shunt. The win ended up going to Shane Van Gisbergen and Alex Premat, the first in the Supercars series for the Frenchman. Just over a second split them and the other podium finishers, Scott McLaughlin/David Wall and Jamie Whincup/Paul Dumbrell.
Coulthard’s Falcon was repaired overnight, making it on to the grid for the second of the two 300km races. Sunday was another good day for Triple Eight with Whincup and Dumbrell leading home a one-two ahead of Van Gisbergen and Premat. McLaughlin was beyond lucky to even make the podium after providing the pass or save of the weekend on Mark Winterbottom. Going in to turn five, the Prodrive car moved under brakes, throwing McLaughlin out of rythym, locking up his brakes and looking to nail the Ford. Both drivers were fortunate to see the incident was going to happen, doing the utmost to avoid it and escaping without a scratch.
Three second places and a win throughout the four race endurance campaign saw the #97 take the trophy, the first time for both Van Gisbergen and Premat to win the endurance series.
The Form Guide
After the calamities of Bathurst, the championship order has been well and truly shaken up. While Fabian Coulthard has the points lead and is consistent, the expected arrival of twins next week will surely be changing his brake markers. Jamie Whincup is always a worry, especially around circuits where overtaking is common; his ability to execute passes is what has made him the best driver in Supercars history. Third in the championship and only a handful of points behind Whincup, Scott McLaughlin will be pushing hard for his maiden championship; carrying the famous #17 to victory this year has undoubtedly made the hearts of Ford fans flutter.
Despite being a fair few points behind the top three championship leaders, both Chaz Mostert and Shane Van Gisbergen are still within a round of the lead and if this year has been anything to go by, there’s still a chance for them to be in contention by Newcastle.
|2017 Vodafone Gold Coast 600 Weather Forecast|
|Friday||18°C – 25°C||Saturday||15°C – 19°C||Sunday||15°C – 22°C|
Images via LAT Images and Red Bull Holden Racing Team