With the final round of the season upon us, and with a big question mark on what team’s are to expect, what better time to sit down with our Head of Engineering, Alistair McVean, to chat through the task ahead…
How do you prepare when there is no previous data to learn from?
Al: Supercars have done a very good job in providing us with a detailed circuit profile along with some basic lap simulation data that goes a long way towards understanding what characteristics the circuit has to offer. From this data, and through our own simulations we have been able to characterise the circuit and compare it to others that we race on. From here we have made educated decisions as to the setup of the car to roll out with. Whereas some teams have sent team members to the track for specific visits over the last couple of weeks, it does not suit a team of our resource profile to spend time and money doing this when the circuit is not even finished. So we will walk and slowly drive the track on Thursday to understand the nuances of the circuit that we can’t see from a piece of paper and then finalise the starting setup.
Can you tell us about what you have seen?
Al: It is clearly going to be a tricky circuit with lots of different corner styles and road profiles all packed into a very short lap. There are high speed sections, 90 degree corners, heavy braking zones, undulation and surface changes. So it will basically cover all possible scenarios. As a result it will take a very well balanced car in all aspects to generate a good lap time. Furthermore as a new circuit it will likely change character as the weekend goes on and the circuit “rubbers in”. So not only will we be attempting to develop a setup on a brand new circuit, it will be forever changing as the weekend wears on!
Are there any tell tale signs that we should suit certain parts of the circuit? If any.
Al: We have tended to be strong on all circuits in the later part of the year, having had front row qualifying positions at 3 of the last 4 events. In terms of strengths, we should maximise the braking into turn 1 and 2 quite well and have solid performance through the 90 degree corner section from Turn 7 to Turn 9. If we were to pinpoint a potential weakness it would be the high speed change of direction corners from turn 4 to turn 6.
It’s the final round, so what are your goals to finish off the year?
Al: Our goal post Bathurst was to retain the 6th position in the driver’s championship and 5th in the team’s championship. Having had a tough run with incidents at the last two events the driver’s championship goal has likely been lost, so we have reset the goals to 8th in the driver’s and 5th in the teams championship. As always though we go to the track with the goal of performing at the highest level we know we can as individuals, and that if we do the team results will follow.