Welcome back to Race Chaser Online’s 2015 V8 Supercars race previews! Before each V8 Supercars race weekend, we take a look at the track the series will be visiting, and point out the drivers to keep an eye out for during the weekend. Keep checking Race Chaser Online over the course of the 2015 season for your V8 Supercars news and notes!
WILLOWBANK, Queensland, Australia — Race Preview by Race Chaser Online V8 Supercars Correspondent James Pike — Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
RACES 18 – 20: COATES HIRE IPSWICH SUPERSPRINT
Queensland Raceway, Willowbank, Queensland
3.12 km (1.94 mi) circuit
Saturday, Aug. 1:
Race 18: 20 laps, 62.4 km, start time 2:25 P.M. (12:25 A.M. EDT)
Race 19: 20 laps, 62.4 km, start time 4:30 P.M. (2:30 A.M. EDT)
Sunday, Aug. 2:
Race 20: 65 laps, 202.8 km, start time 2:10 P.M. (12:10 A.M. EDT)
Jamie Whincup (Race 18, Race 19), James Courtney (Race 20)
The V8 Supercars Championship makes its annual visit to their version of “The Paper Clip” this weekend, when Queensland Raceway plays host to the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint.
Of all the tracks on the V8 Supercars calendar, Queensland Raceway is the least complex in layout. That being said, the racing can get complicated very quickly.
This is an almost perfectly flat track laid out in the middle of a field; likewise, there is no banking to support the cars as they make their way around the circuit. Drivers begin a lap here with a run down the front straightaway before cutting through a deceptively quick Turn 1. That is followed by a run through an Indianapolis-style “short chute” straight into Turn 2, which is the longest corner on the course. Both turns are incredibly similar in nature and are only differentiated by corner distance — the first turn is only slightly tighter than a dogleg, whereas the second turn is not far removed from Road America’s famed “carousel.”
Cars exit Turn 2 onto the back straight, the longest and fastest portion of the circuit. By the time drivers reach turn 3, they will be traveling just over 160 mph. Once they reach turn 3, cars have to get back on the brakes to make it through the first of Queensland Raceway’s two large hairpins. Holding speed through corner exit is crucial here to maintain it down the straightaway that leads into the Turn 4-5 complex.
Turns 4 and 5 are scaled-down and reversed mirrors of Turns 1 and 2. The fourth turn is the slower and left-handed counterpart of the long and flowing Turn 2, whereas Turn 5 is the tight kink that is a smaller version of Turn 1. As it is with the exit of Turn 3, carrying corner exit speed out of Turn 5 is crucial to set up a run down the final straightaway on the circuit. From that last straightaway, drivers tackle another large hairpin in Turn 7 before setting up a run down the front straightaway to complete the lap.
DRIVERS TO WATCH:
Historically, this has been a race track dominated by Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup. Lowndes has 11 career victories here, more than double the number for the next person on the list (Garth Tander, who has five). Whincup has won three of the last six races at this circuit. Together, they have won all but three of the races run here since 2011.
That being said, success in the Sunday race here has eluded them since Lowndes completed his sweep of the 2012 race weekend. This would be a timely place for that streak to be snapped, especially given the success that the RBRA counterparts in the Ford camp have enjoyed as of late.
Normally, it is those Fords that are trailing the Red Bulls in the points standings at this point in the season. But this year, the situation has reversed, and the introduction of the new Falcon FG X chassis from Ford has shifted the success in their favor.
Prodrive Racing Australia’s Mark Winterbottom leads the points and already has tied a career-high with six victories this season. He will come to Queensland looking to set a personal record with a win in one of the three races this weekend. David Reynolds has also benefitted from the FG X chassis — he has climbed to fourth in points with three podiums in as many races (including a win in the Sunday race at Hidden Valley). He will look to mark his 50th V8 Supercars Championship round with Rod Nash Racing by using his current momentum to turn around a recent string of poor finishes here (he has five finishes of 15th or worse since moving to RNR in 2012).
After Townsville, Mark Winterbottom’s advantage in the points standings grew to a margin of 248 over Lowndes. It was not the best of weeks for the senior driver in the RBRA camp, who could only muster finishes of 14th and ninth to go up against Winterbottom’s pair of victories to sweep the weekend.
Add to that the fact that historically dominant Jamie Whincup is languishing in eighth place in the standings, and it makes one wonder if his run of dominance — and, by association, RBRA’s run — may be interrupted at season’s end.
With the PIRTEK Enduro Cup looming in the not-too-far-off distance (this round and the following round at Sydney Motorsport Park are the only two that remain before the Wilson Security Sandown 500), this round is the one where teams need to begin building momentum.
Translation: It’s go time.
For more information on the V8 Supercars Championship, visit www.v8supercars.com.au.