The break is finally over and we are itching to get back on track! We won’t lie, the team enjoyed some well-deserved R ‘n R, but we’re looking forward to some warmth and sunny days. Not to mention, there is only so long before we go a little stir crazy.
Hidden Valley Raceway features one of the longest straights in Australia, with a back section full of kinks, twists and bumps; requiring a car that can change direction very well and get good drive off the exit.
It’s a happy hunting ground for both David and Dale, and in case you don’t remember that Sunday back in 2015, it’s where David scored a win before promptly drinking champagne from his race boot. Win both races and qualify fastest in the Top 10 Shootout this weekend and you’d be the first to win the “Triple Crown”.
As always, we’ll be pulling out all the stops. We head into the weekend inside the top five in the Championship, and between us, we plan on staying there!
History lesson: This year marks the 20th time the Championship has competed in the Top End, with the first race back in 1998.
What makes this track unique: The track is adaptable to a variety of different driving styles which is why some drivers tend to show surprising performances here.
Grip levels: High, since the track was resurfaced prior to the 2015 event.
Tyre degradation: Low, to the point where a nicely balanced car will run the same lap times throughout a race stint. Look for similar race strategies to those employed at Winton; tyre degradation concerns will be less favoured than finding clear track.
Run-off: Generally good, but as we have seen over the years there are walls waiting if you are forced off the road. You also don’t want to get yourself in trouble at turn 11, we have seen cars upside down there before!
Safety cars: The Safety Car has appeared in exactly half of the 52 races held at Hidden Valley – a total of 26.
Watch out for: The heat – it’s very easy to overheat, whether it be the engine, the tyres, or even the driver. Managing temperatures is a critical part of the weekend and if it wasn’t hot enough, be wary of grass fires at Turn 1, caused when the cars spear off and often result in a Safety Car.
Did you know: Snakes are on the horizon! But don’t worry, there are often scrub fires initiated at the precincts edges to limit their migration; you can see the telltale smoke rising from just outside the circuit on the TV coverage.
Don’t forget: The team will line up for its 150th Championship race on Saturday, so here’s hoping it’s a good one!
FROM THE DRIVERS
David Reynolds – #9 Erebus Penrite Racing
“I love the warmer weather, I love the track and I love that I’ve won here before, and been on pole a couple of times.
“The style of cars I have driven in the past have really suited this track and I think we should go alright this weekend. It’s always close at the front of the field, but if we get our balance right there is no reason why we can’t potentially fight for a win.
“Our main aim is to qualify better, it’s the most important part of the weekend and been our biggest struggle this year. We have proved we have a good race car but if you qualify too far back, you can certainly get a good result, but can never really challenge for the top spot. We have some ideas to try and get on top of that this weekend, but you never really know how you’ll go until you’re all on the same track, on the same tyre.”
Dale Wood – #99 Erebus GB Galvanizing Racing
“Darwin is my favourite event of the year, it’s a great event and it’s nice to leave Melbourne and get some sun. The atmosphere and the way everyone gets right behind the event is really cool, the town does a brilliant job of putting it on.
“The track’s surface is really good, they resurfaced it a few years ago and it doesn’t do a heap of running up there, so it’s held up really well. We have always raced on a hard tyre but I think it’s good that we have changed to the soft and I think they will hold on, similar to Winton.
“The track isn’t long but has lots of technical little aspects; a good hairpin, a little bit of undulation and some good fast corners. I’ve had a lot of success in past years in a Holden, qualified well inside the top ten and finished inside the top ten also, so that was cool. I think we should be in for a pretty good showing up there, I expect to roll out and have a pretty good car.”