Round five of the Supercars Championship will be held at Perth’s Barbagallo Raceway as the season enters the middle third.
As a tight track with an abrasive surface that chews up tyres, outright speed doesn’t always win races but strategy always helps.
|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.
|2018 Virgin Australian Supercars Championship – Perth SuperSprint|
|Event Dates||04-06 May 2018||Format||SuperSprint|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 11:05-11:50||Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:40-15:25|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 10:00-10:20||Race 11 Qualifying Part 1||Sat 11:55-12:05|
|Race 11 Qualifying Part 2||Sat 12:10-12:20||Race 11 Qualifying Part 3||Sat 12:25-12:35|
|Race 11 (50 laps)||Sat 14:45-15:45||Free Practice Session 4||Sun 09:15-09:35|
|Race 12 Qualifying Part 1||Sun 11:20-11:30||Race 12 Qualifying Part 2||Sun 11:35-11:45|
|Race 12 Qualifying Part 3||Sun 11:50-12:00||Race 12 (83 laps)||Sun 14:15-15:45|
Session times quoted in Australian Western Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 8:00)
Rewind to 2017
Two massive crashes nearly occurred in qualifying, the first with Shane van Gisbergen and the second with Dale Wood, both due to being on hot laps while the field pottered around on their out-laps from the pits. The near-misses and high closing speeds were a catalyst for the qualifying format to be changed this year.
Last year’s weekend was clean-swept by Scott McLaughlin, winning both of the races and, along with team-mate Fabian Coulthard, helping DJR Team Penske take both poles for the round.
Superior car speed on Saturday meant McLaughlin overtook Coulthard and held the lead, taking his first win for the team and also his first since clean-sweeping Phillip Island in 2016 with Volvo/GRM. To finish one-two when Roger Penske was in attendance gave McLaughlin a boost going in to Sunday’s race, winning from pole position.
The Form Guide
Here’s a stat for you: Ludo Lacroix has been the engineer on three of the last four winning cars at Barbagallo. McLaughlin’s clean-sweep last year was also the first win for the Frenchman with DJR Team Penske after he departed Triple Eight in 2016. The Saturday race in Perth that year was won by Craig Lowndes after Lacroix told the veteran to pit, making use of fresher tyres to beat everyone despite being one of the few two-stopped.
McLaughlin heads to Barbagallo with a spring in his step after not only winning both races at last year’s event but also clean-sweeping the last round at Phillip Island. After having a better start to the season than last year, he’ll be looking to make hay while the sun is shining and retain the championship lead after Perth.
David Reynolds is not an underdog this year; he’s proven himself and his Erebus squad as being genuine championship contenders. With one win so far this season and sitting second in the standings, he’s holding off drivers and teams with a bigger budget and breadth of resources than him.
Even though Shane van Gisbergen sits third in the points after suffering two mechanical dramas so far this season, Barbagallo has been one of his dud tracks. Ironically, despite being great in the wet, the low-grip surface in Perth has been a challenge for him over the years. He’ll be vulnerable to attack from teammates Craig Lowndes, who is clicking well with the 2016 tyre, and Jamie Whincup, who led the championship heading in to Phillip Island despite a DNF in Adelaide.
|2018 Perth SuperSprint Weather Forecast|
|Friday||5°C – 22°C||Saturday||17°C – 29°C||Sunday||12°C – 22°C|
Images via LAT, SPR