V8SC: Race Preview — Sydney NRMA 500

James Pike Featured, International, Supercars 0 Comments

SYDNEY, New South Wales, Australia — Race Preview by Race Chaser Online V8 Supercars Correspondent James Pike –

Welcome to the finale 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 conclude with a look at this weekend’s grand finale event for 2014, the Sydney NRMA 500!

It’s been fun covering the entirety of the V8 Supercars Championship for the 2014 season, and we look forward to continuing that in 2015! However, for all your offseason V8 Supercars news and notes, keep it tuned to Race Chaser Online!

RACES 36-38 — SYDNEY NRMA 500

Homebush Street Circuit — Sydney Olympic Park, New South Wales

3.42 km (2.13 mi) temporary street circuit

RACE INFORMATION:

Saturday, 12/6:

Race 36: 37 laps, 127 km, start time 2:30 P.M. (10:30 P.M. EST Friday)

Race 37: 37 laps, 127 km, start time 4:50 P.M. (12:50 A.M. EST)

Sunday, 12/7:  

Race 38: 74 laps, 253 km, start time 3:40 P.M. (11:40 P.M. EST Saturday)

2013 WINNERS:  

Jamie Whincup (Race 35), Shane van Gisbergen (Race 36)

(Note: only two races were run at Homebush last season — one per day, at 74 laps a piece)

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Though most racing series have concluded their seasons by this time of the year, the V8 Supercars take advantage of the late springtime weather that arrives in Australia every December to delay their “grand finale” for a few weeks. The season will come to a close this weekend on the streets of the Sydney Olympic Park, as drivers battle in the heart of the New South Wales capital for one last victory to close out the season, and one spot higher in the final points standings.

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TRACK OVERVIEW:

The Homebush Street Circuit may be the most simplistic of all the track designs the V8 Supercars encounters.

It can be summed in this way: long straightaways that always end in some form of tight turn, be it a 90-degree left or right hander or one of the many chicanes found here.

That being said, there are some oddities to be found if one studies the track closely enough. The 90 degree left-hand Turn 1, at the end of the long run down Australia Avenue, carries a massive funneling effect with it. Cars can potentially run into the corner 5-wide before they have to file in line to the 2-wide straightaway that follows. Turn 1 is a corner that tightens up incredibly fast, and in some cases, drivers aren’t able to fall in line fast enough and find the wall here.

Fans should be on the lookout for some opening-corner drama- in Sydney, the races where everybody gets through the first corner cleanly are the exception and not the rule. Also of note is the triple chicane that follows the end of the next straightaway. These corners (officially Turns 2, 3, and 4) are one of the two corners of this circuit that don’t involve some sort of 90-degree turn, and they too have a bit of a funneling effect (much like the similar chicane section on the back straightaway at the Gold Coast). It isn’t uncommon to see drivers run out of room here either.

The other major oddity corner at Homebush is Turn 5, which is in essence a narrower and slightly slower version of Adelaide’s famed Turn 8. It is a left-handed dogleg that can catch some drivers out if they run the corner too close to the wall. Drivers will have to tip-toe through this corner more often than not to stay out of trouble- it can get especially tricky to navigate if it rains, as fans saw in the infamous “rain race” on Saturday here in 2010.

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DRIVERS TO WATCH:

Jamie Whincup is Champion-elect for 2014, so there is no points battle at the top to watch for (though one can expect Whincup and teammate Craig Lowndes to be in the mix for victories here this weekend). Instead, there are two battles slightly further down the order to be watching- the battle for 3rd in points, and the battle for fifth.

Third place is currently held by Craig Lowndes, but Shane van Gisbergen is only 39 points out in fourth- if anything happens to Lowndes, then “SvG” will be able to capitalize. To make matters worse for Lowndes, van Gisbergen is statistically at his very best on the street courses of the V8 Supercars Championship, and won the Sunday race here last year. The #97 V.I.P. Petfoods car will almost certainly be running near the front at the end of one, if not both races this weekend (provided he avoids on-track and mechanical issues).

While the battle for third place in points will be interesting, the battle for fifth will be the one to really pay attention to.

Four drivers — Scott McLaughlin, Fabian Coulthard, Chaz Mostert, and James Courtney- are only separated by 30 points coming into the weekend. One would think that the favorites of these four to succeed would be McLaughlin and Courtney, since McLaughlin has shown pace in his Volvo consistently for the majority of the season, and Courtney’s Holden Racing Team were top of the chart in the first day of practice.

Mostert has struggled to find form since his surprise victory in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, and Coulthard’s track record at Homebush isn’t all that impressive. However, the latter of those two may be able to lean on the notes of teammate Jason Bright, who finished fourth and second here in 2013 in what was one of his best weekends of the season. And as always, the possibility of one of these four being caught up in an incident or mechanical problem is there, and may throw a loop in the race for fifth in the standings.

In short, everything is on the line for those four drivers this weekend, before they get to spend a few months “relaxing by the barby” in the offseason.

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

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