Surfers Paradise will play host to the second round of the Enduro Cup this year, marking a critical round in the mini-season of endurance racing for the Supercars Championship.
After a short, two-week turnaround from the Bathurst 1000 where the post-event fallout still rages, the main drivers and their co-drivers must reset and change their mentality to take on the two 300-kilometre, 102-lap races between the beachfront skyscrapers.
|Surfers Paradise Street Circuit|
|Location||Sorfers Paradise, QLD||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.
With everything to play for as the championship comes to a close, a clean weekend is crucial for the title protagonists who will want to stay away from the typical carnage seen in the long, hard race around the Gold Coast streets.
|2019 Australian Supercars Championship – Vodafone Gold Coast 600|
|Event Dates||25-27 October 2019||Format||Enduro Cup|
|Free Practice Session 1||Fri 11:15-11:45||Free Practice Session 2*||Fri 14:45-15:15|
|Free Practice Session 3||Fri 17:45-18:15||Race 26 Qualifying||Sat 10:40-11:00|
|Race 26 Top-10 Shootout
||Sat 12:30-12:55||Race 26 (102 laps)
|Race 27 Qualifying
||Sun 10:55-11:15||Race 27 Top-10 Shootout||Sun 12:50-13:15|
|Race 27 (102 laps)
* Co-Driver only session
Session times quoted in Australian Eastern Standard Time (GMT +10)
|2019 Australian Supercars Championship – Gold Coast 600 Entry List|
|#||Team / Entry||Driver||Co-Driver|
|2.||Walkinshaw Andretti United||Scott Pye||Warren Luff|
|3.||Kelly Racing||Garry Jacobson||Dean Fiore|
|5.||Tickford Racing||Lee Holdsworth||Thomas Randle|
|6.||Tickford Racing||Cameron Waters||Michael Caruso|
|7.||Kelly Racing||Andre Heimgartner||Bryce Fulwood|
|8.||Brad Jones Racing||Nick Percat||Tim Blanchard|
|9.||Erebus Motorsport||David Reynolds||Luke Youlden|
|12.||DJR Team Penske||Fabian Coulthard||Tony D’Alberto|
|14.||Brad Jones Racing||Tim Slade||Ashley Walsh|
|15.||Kelly Racing||Rick Kelly||Dale Wood|
|17.||DJR Team Penske||Scott McLaughlin||Alexandre Prémat|
|18.||Charlie Schwerkolt Racing||Mark Winterbottom||Steven Richards|
|19.||TEKNO Autosports||Jack Le Brocq||Jonathon Webb*|
|21.||Tim Blanchard Racing (BJR)||Macauley Jones||Dean Canto|
|22.||Walkinshaw Andretti United||James Courtney||Jack Perkins|
|23.||23Red Racing||Will Davison||Alex Davison|
|33.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Richie Stanaway||Chris Pither|
|34.||Garry Rogers Motorsport||James Golding||Richard Muscat|
|35.||Matt Stone Racing||Todd Hazelwood||Jack Smith|
|55.||Tickford Racing||Chaz Mostert||James Moffat|
|56.||Kostecki Brothers Racing^||Brodie Kostecki||Jake Kostecki|
|78.||Kelly Racing||Simona de Silvestro||Alex Rullo|
|88.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Jamie Whincup||Craig Lowndes|
|97.||Triple Eight Race Engineering||Shane van Gisbergen||Garth Tander|
|99.||Erebus Motorsport||Anton de Pasquale||Will Brown|
^ Wildcard entry
Rewind to 2018
The opening leg of last year’s Gold Coast 600 saw an unexpected win for Tickford Racing’s Chaz Mostert and his co-driver James Moffat, who gave the #55 SuperCheap Auto Racing Ford its first victory of the 2018 season. It was Mostert’s first win in exactly a year, with his last triumph coming at the same race when partnered with Steve Owen.
Moffat ended up driving a majority of the race thanks to an early Safety Car interruption that forced the field’s hand on strategy and driver changes.
Pole position had once again been won by DJR Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, although it was his co-driver Alexandre Prémat who was behind the wheel for the start of the 102-lap race. The Frenchman led the pack into the first chicane, but quickly came under pressure from Paul Dumbrell (co-driving with Red Bull Holden’s Jamie Whincup).
On Lap 2 Dumbrell attempted a run for the lead, but only succeeded in making contact with Prémat and pitching him into the wall, which dropped the #17 Falcon to fifth place.
The stewards declared the contact a racing incident and opted to take no further action, leaving Dumbrell to lead from his fellow co-drivers Tony D’Alberto, Moffat, Luke Youlden and Prémat.
A mistake by co-driver Will Brown saw him smack his #99 Erebus Motorsport Holden against the inside wall at the first chicane, which ricocheted him into the outside fence before he was collected by an unsighted Steve Owen (co-driving with Tickford’s Richie Stanaway).
That triggered an early Safety Car, bringing the field into the pits with a number of runners electing to swap drivers. It was a disaster for Dumbrell, who stalled as he left his pit bay and then hit Moffat. That earned him an unsafe pit release drive-through penalty, while D’Alberto inherited the race lead. Worse was to come for the Red Bull Holden team, with the sister #97 entry piloted by Earl Bamber (co-driving for Shane van Gisbergen) also copping an unsafe pit release penalty – the pair were bumped to 21st and 22nd after serving their penalties.
D’Alberto lost the lead to the quicker Moffat on Lap 36 and despite a quicker pit stop by DJR Team Penske – with D’Alberto handing over to Fabian Coulthard – that saw the #12 entry re-inherit the lead, once Moffat swapped with Mostert the positions switched, with Mostert easing by Coulthard.
The final pit stops shuffled the order, leaving Mostert out front while James Courtney and Craig Lowndes waged a tense battle for second place, with David Reynolds and McLaughlin in fourth and fifth.
Lowndes managed to scramble by into second place, leaving a fuel-conserving Courtney to fend Reynolds off for the final podium position. McLaughlin crossed the line in fifth to claim a narrow 14-point championship lead over Whincup who finished 14th.
Any hopes of a repeat on Sunday were dashed when a torrential storm lashed Surfers Paradise thirty laps into the race, forcing the it to be abandoned before half-distance as conditions refused to ease. No points were awarded, meaning that Craig Lowndes and co-driver Steven Richards claimed the Pirtek Enduro Cup despite an early-race collision.
The Form Guide
The build-up to one of the festival events of the season has been sadly dominated by CAMS’ decision to punish DJR Team Penske and Fabian Coulthard for their role in the team orders fiasco that helped – deliberately or coincidentally, depending on what side of the fence you’re on – to hand teammate Scott McLaughlin his first Bathurst 1000 victory.
The Queensland team was handed a record $250,000 fine and a 300-point hit on their Teams’ Championship tally, as well as an excoriating blast from the governing body for breaching the FIA statutes. The penalty was the maximum that CAMS could hand out, and while it did so to draw a line in the sand and deter other teams from trying the same stunt in the future, it’s small change for the DJR Team Penske juggernaut that looks set to sweep to back-to-back titles this year.
McLaughlin’s best response to put the cloud of his Bathurst win behind him will be to do as he has done for so much of 2019 by letting his driving do the talking.
The New Zealander will almost certainly become the first driver since Jamie Whincup in 2014 to clinch the championship crown before the final round of the season in Newcastle. He is a mammoth 622 points ahead of Shane van Gisbergen and 861 from Chaz Mostert in the Drivers’ Championship standings, and with 900 points available over the final three rounds of the season he can theoretically wrap up the title this weekend.
The 26-year-old can claim back-to-back crowns if he drops no more than 22 points to van Gisbergen and 261 to Mostert across the weekend’s two 300-kilometre races. He could wrap up the title by winning Saturday’s race if – regardless of where Mostert finishes – van Gisbergen fails to finish.
The list of race-winners at Surfers Paradise is a veritable who’s who of the Australian touring car scene, and it could well be an open fight between several drivers and teams. Whincup is the event’s most successful driver with five wins, while his teammate van Gisbergen has three victories to his credit.
Provided they can stop running into each other, the Tickford Racing stable could be a threat. Mostert will look to add to his two victories here and atone for colliding with teammate Cam Waters at Bathurst, while Will Davison in the satellite 23Red Racing Ford has been steadily improving and might also spring a surprise.
Images via LAT, Red Bull Holden Racing Team, Tickford Racing, Supercars
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