V8SC: Race Preview — Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600

James Pike Featured, International, Supercars 0 Comments

SURFERS PARADISE, Queensland, Australia — Race Preview by Race Chaser Online V8 Supercars Correspondent James Pike –

Welcome to the continuation of Race Chaser Online’s 2014 V8 Supercars race previews! Before each V8 Supercars race weekend, we will take a look at the track the series will be visiting, and point out the drivers to keep an eye out for during the races. We move forward with a look at the final round of the 2014 PIRTEK Enduro Cup, the Castrol EDGE Gold Coast 600! Keep checking Race Chaser Online over the course of the 2014 season for your V8 Supercars news and notes!

RACES 31 AND 32 – CASTROL GOLD COAST 600

Surfers Paradise Street Circuit, Surfers Paradise, Queensland

2.98 km (1.85 mi) temporary street circuit

RACE INFORMATION:

Saturday, 10/25:  Race 31: 102 laps, 300 km, start time 2:40 P.M. (12:40 A.M. EST)

Sunday, 10/26:  Race 32: 102 laps, 300 km, start time 1:55 P.M. (11:55 P.M. EST Saturday)

2013 WINNERS:  Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff (Race 31), David Reynolds and Dean Canto (Race 32)

 

This weekend will see the conclusion of the PIRTEK Enduro Cup for the V8 Supercars Championship when the field tackles Surfers Paradise at the Castrol Gold Coast 600. Double points of a normal Sunday sprint race will be on offer to the winners in both races that will be held over the weekend, so drivers will be racing hard in an effort to claim the last bit of enduro race glory this season — and set up their run for the championship.

 

TRACK OVERVIEW:

Of all the courses that the V8 Supercars runs during the season, this one should be the most familiar to American audiences, as it is the same track that CART and IndyCar have run in seasons past. However, there are some slight nuances that the V8 Supercars bring that make the course run slightly differently compared to the open-wheeled machines.

This is far and away the most narrow track on the V8 Supercars calendar, and the close-fendered, big-bodied V8 Supercars tend to accentuate this fact in racing; qualifying well will be more important this weekend than at any other point during the season. Qualify poorly, and drivers will end up in the back of the field to start the race, and put themselves in prime position to get caught up in an accident that starts some 15-20 cars ahead of them in the field. Such is the nature of racing here– the “chain reaction” effect tends to be amplified to about an 11 on the one to ten scale.

The other two major characteristics that make Surfers Paradise unique are its chicanes and tight corners. There are two sets of chicanes on the circuit, and it is paramount that drivers find the right balance between attacking them to get the best lap time, but not brazenly hopping their cars over the chicanes’ curbing.

Suspensions are broken easily here, and most often because drivers were too reckless driving through the chicanes. Likewise, drivers can also find themselves fighting one another besides fighting the track. Since this circuit is almost entirely comprised of long-fast straightaways followed by short, tight corners, drivers will use the brakes heavily on corner entry, and it’s common to see drivers make contact and end up wrecking into the tire barriers. Corners 3 and 9 have been the greatest offenders in this regard in seasons past, and this year seems unlikely to be an exception.

 

DRIVERS TO WATCH:

Unlike most of the races on the V8 Supercars calendar, this track has had a tendency (especially in recent seasons) to provide a few surprise finishes, and bring some new faces of the championship to the podium. Three-time defending series champion Jamie Whincup failed to finish the Saturday race, and only could finish fourth in Sunday’s event last year, while Russell Ingall managed to take his small-budget team, Walkinshaw Racing, to a third-place finish in that Sunday race last season.

That trend should continue this season, though likely to a lesser degree — these past few seasons have been a bit of an anomaly as far as championship contenders’ lack of success goes.

However, there is one man who is almost a lock to finish on the podium at least once over the weekend, and that is Shane van Gisbergen — though he is talented and competitive at just about every circuit on the calendar, he excels in comparison to the rest of the field at the three street circuits in the championship. Given that he will want to redeem himself for the almost-victory that was at Bathurst, SvG will be racing hard from the start, and a victory for him in Queensland should not come as a shock should it occur over the weekend.

Othrwise, expect a regression back towards the norm to work in tandem with the surprises, where one of Jamie Whincup, Craig Lowndes, Mark Winterbottom, or Chaz Mostert (and their respective co-drivers) wins at least one of the two races. The surprises will likely come in the second and third places on the podium, where faces that don’t make regular appearances in those spots manage to claim one of the Gold Coast’s famed surfboard trophies.

James Moffat posted his best finish since Winton last season at Bathurst- can he string together back-to-back podiums for the Norton Hornets? Can Nick Percat do the same and continue his impressive run of form in the second half of this season? Will David Reynolds be able to repeat his victory from last year? Or will one of the likes of Brad Jones Racing/Garry Rogers Motorsport rebound from disappointing finishes at Bathurst to grab a podium here?

All of those questions are to be answered in what will be a wild weekend in (Surfers) Paradise.

For more information on the V8 Supercars Championship, visit http://www.v8supercars.com.au/.

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