Round three of this year’s Supercars championship sees the paddock race at the shortest track on the calendar, Symmons Plains, held at the Apple Isle of Tasmania. One of the oldest tracks that the series visits, its short layout is full of character which always provides action.

The Circuit

Symmons Plains Raceway

Symmons Plains Raceway
Location Launceston, Tasmania Circuit Length 2.410 km / 1.498 mi
Opened 1960 First ATCC Event 1969
Direction Anticlockwise Lap Record 51.437s – Craig Lowndes (2017)

Despite being a relatively short circuit, it is second only to Bathurst in the amount of time which drivers spend at full throttle. Even though many commentators say there are eight corners, there are really only three tricky ones.

Turn 1 is possibly the most difficult as drivers have to break for a 90 degree left turn while going over a gentle right crest. A brake failure in 2013 here saw Scott Pye hit the outside barriers head-on, nearly going over the top of the fencing.

The hairpin at the end of the straight provides a great passing opportunity and some classic lap one blunders. Drivers either run the high or low line depending on whether they need to defend or attack heading down the next piece of road.

After going flat-chat down the back straight and around the massive curve in it, the cars arrive on the sixth gear limiter at the final turns of the track. The perfect place for a criss-cross, the two turns flow as one, meaning if someone goes too hot into the first section, they could be mugged coming back on the pit straight.

The Event

2018 Tyyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint – Schedule
Event Dates 06-08 April 2018 Format SuperSprint
Free Practice Session 1 Fri 11:30-12:15 Free Practice Session 2 Fri 15:00-15:45
Free Practice Session 3 Sat 11:05-11:25 Race 7 Qualifying (Part 1) Sat 12:55-13:05
Race 7 Qualifying (Part 2) Sat 13:10-13:20 Race 7 Qualifying (Part 3) Sat 13:25-13:35
Race 7 (50 laps) Sat 16:45-17:40 Free Practice Session 4 Sun 09:55-10:15
Race 8 Qualifying (Part 1) Sun 11:05-11:15 Race 8 Qualifying (Part 2) Sun 11:20-11:30
Race 8 Qualifying (Part 3) Sun 11:35-11:45 Race 8 (84 laps) Sun 14:05-15:30

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

Rewind to 2017

2017’s running at Symmons Plains saw one of the biggest if not the most expensive crash in Supercars history. Race one was held late in the afternoon after showers plagued the day, causing intense spray as the field completed the first lap. On the way down to the hairpin on lap two, a chain reaction of events was started when Fabian Coulthard and Rick Kelly made contact after the turn three kink.

Due to the spray being kicked up and the low sun, visibility was next to zero, meaning most cars behind the first two didn’t see the crash coming. Garth Tander, Cam Waters, Tim Blanchard, James Courtney, Taz Douglas, James Moffat, Nick Percat, Scott Pye, Alex Rullo, Tim Slade and Will Davison were all involved, Davison coming out worst with after aggravating an old back injury.

The race was red-flagged for 45 minutes and then resumed for two laps under the safety car until the race reached the time certain limit. While Van Gisbergen was announced the winner and points were awarded, points were later withdrawn given the race hadn’t properly lasted two laps.

Race two was a much calmer affair with Fabian Coulthard taking his first win since 2015 and the first ever for DJR Team Penske after the merger at the start of 2015. Scott McLaughlin made it a historic one-two finish for the Queensland based squad while Jamie Whincup kept them honest, finishing third behind the Falcons.

Will Davison, TEKNO Autosports Holden VF Commodore - 2017 Tasmania SuperSprint

Will Davison was one of many drivers taken out in the opening-lap pile-up in Saturday’s opening race.

Talking Points

Due to previous incidents in qualifying around short tracks like Symmons Plains and Barbagallo, this weekend will see the introduction of a new format which will be run at high-congestion tracks. The top ten from practice automatically progress to qualifying two while the 16 who didn’t make the cut run in their own session in qualifying one. The top six from that session move on to qualifying two which then allows the top ten qualifiers move through to qualifying three. It’s a unique combination of MotoGP’s qualifying with “pre-qualifying” in practice as well as Formula One’s three session format.

After Triple Eight became Holden’s factory team at the beginning of last year, they were given the rights to develop the new V6 Twin Turbo engine in a bid to keep relevance with the road-going product. Heading in to the weekend, Holden announced they would shelve the program until it sees fit despite comments only days before about the new engine making a debut shortly. The decision will also allow Triple Eight to make leaps and bounds with their own development now that they won’t have to juggle multiple balls at once. Holden’s Chevy V8 in its current guise has been in circulation since 2003 and can trace its roots all the way back to 1993 when the V8 formula was first introduced.

The Symmons Plains Form Guide

It’s hard to pick who will shine this weekend but if previous results, both this season and years previous, are anything to go buy it’ll be a good weekend for Holden fans. The new Commodore has won all bar one race this year with four different Holden drivers taking the chequered flag over the season’s six races. Apart from last year, the Tasmania round was won by the red lion every year since 2011.

Jamie Whincup and Shane Van Gisbergen have proved speedy so far in 2018, the reigning champion clawing back points after a DNF in Adelaide while 2016 champion Van Gisbergen is the current points leader for the season. Fellow Holden racers Scott Pye and David Reynolds will be worth keeping an eye on, especially since both wins under their belts this season and are generally the dark horses to watch.

Ford’s hopes lie with Scott McLaughlin and Chaz Mostert, the young pair are currently Ford’s best hopes in the title fight after their respective team-mates struggled in the opening races. McLaughlin will want to make amends for losing the championship last year while Mostert wants to get back to his 2015 domination pace.

2018 Symmons Plans SuperSprint Weather Forecast
Friday 8°C – 19°C Saturday 9°C – 19°C Sunday 9°C – 18°C

Images via Edge Photographics

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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