Staying in the Sunshine State, the Supercars field this weekend will be racing at Ipswich’s Queensland Raceway, the home track of a lot of teams.
|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.
|2018 Australian Supercars Championship – Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint|
|Event Dates||20-22 July 2018||Format||SuperSprint|
|Co-Driver Practice Session 1||Fri 10:10-10:40||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 12:00-12:45|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:35-15:20||Free Practice Session 3||Sat 11:20-12:05|
|Race 19 Qualifying||Sat 13:25-13:40||Race 19 (39 laps)||Sat 16:15-17:15|
|Race 20 Qualifying||Sun 10:40-11:00||Race 20 (65 laps)||Sun 14:05-15:35|
Session times quoted in Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC/GMT + 10:00)
Rewind to 2017
Twelve months ago the Ipswich round was an important chapter for the championship as the order shuffled itself up over the weekend’s two races.
Scott McLaughlin was able to shake off nearly having a massive accident after almost collecting Alex Davison, who was on a slow out-lap, as the #17 car was setting his fastest lap yet. McLaughlin went on to put his car on pole with Craig Lowndes starting next to him.
While it was Lowndes who got the jump off the line, he was soon passed by McLaughlin and chose to take an early pit stop to get in to clean air. A decent portion of the field, including McLaughlin and Chaz Mostert, made their stops in the opening third of the race while Shane van Gisbergen – who started in seventh – pitted later, wanting to utilise his fresher tyres towards the end. Van Gisbergen made a blast through the pack in the dying laps but couldn’t get above the last step on the podium. McLaughlin took the win from Mostert.
McLaughlin again took pole for Sunday, pipping Mostert to the top spot. A bad jump off the line again saw McLaughlin drop positions in the opening lap, going down to fourth while Mostert assumed the lead.
Mostert led the race early on, but was jumped by Jamie Whincup in the first round of stops with McLaughlin filing in behind them after everyone took their first compulsory pit tours. The second round of stops saw Mostert regain the lead thanks to a shorter fuel fill, but he would eventually lose a spot to McLaughlin who was on a late charge.
A late race Safety Car bunched the field up, leaving van Gisbergen in fifth being the one to watch on the freshest rubber while Mostert had McLaughlin to hold off. As the race restarted with only a handful of laps to go, van Gisbergen charged up to third while Mostert only just took the win from McLaughlin, reversing the results of Saturday.
The Form Guide
Although testing is severely limited these days, Queensland Raceway remains as the home track for the teams based in the north such as DJR Team Penske and Triple Eight Race Engineering. While Chaz Mostert in the then-Prodrive Ford won Sunday’s race last year, it’s hard to see him or his Tickford Racing teammates taking it to the Queensland teams this weekend.
McLaughlin owned Queensland Raceway in qualifying last year and had pace to burn in both races, ultimately going on to win on Saturday. He’s in better form this year, taking six wins so far this season while the occasional win from the Commodore boys has been giving him a scare.
Triple Eight has a good chance of getting on the podium, if not locking it out, this round. With Craig Lowndes now on his retirement run, the Supercars veteran comes to Queensland Raceway with more wins than anyone under his belt, taking 12 victories at the venue compared to the next best who only has five.
His teammates have a history of good runs here: van Gisbergen has done well in both his years with Triple Eight while Jamie Whincup has been boosted by good results in Townsville to get his championship charge back on track. It will be interesting to see how the ZB Commodore reacts around the short, sharp circuit as it’s shown its worth around street tracks but struggled at some other venues.
|2018 Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint Weather Forecast|
|Friday||3°C – 22°C||Saturday||1°C – 20°C||Sunday||2°C – 21°C|
Images via LAT Images, Whiteline Racing
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