It’s finally here – the Clipsal 500 is upon as at last and race fever has well and truly broken out in the factory. It’s time to shake off the off-season blues and get your race face on!
In our opinion, there is no finer place to kick off the season than Adelaide. There is just plenty to love – it’s a brilliant town, with a relaxed attitude, fantastic weather and great places to hang out. We don’t have much time for sightseeing though as it’s by no doubt one of the biggest events of the year, so it’s time to get the lowdown, as we prepare for a rapturous welcome to the 2017 Championship…
History lesson: A permanent fixture on the Supercars calendar since 1999, Adelaide Parklands Circuit did in fact host the Formula One Australia Grand Prix years earlier.
What makes this track unique: Turn 8. It is one of the most committed corners of the calendar, with the highest penalty for the smallest mistake. Ever tried threading a needle at over 220km/h!?
Grip levels: Low. This is a street circuit, used just once a year, and it’s very slippery until some rubber gets laid down during the weekend.
Tyre degradation: Low, but not insignificant. There are question marks over how the new soft tyre will perform, although engineers aren’t expecting anything too different to past years.
Run-off: Little room for error – like any street circuit, the walls are right on the circuits edge. It’s called a concrete canyon for a reason.
Safety cars: Of the last 38 races held at the Clipsal 500, the Safety Car has appeared in 34 of them. On average, there are 2.39 SC periods in every race there.
Watch out for: Sunset. The 3:20pm start (local time) means the sun gets low and into the drivers’ line of vision towards the end of the race.
Did you know: Holden is the most successful constructor around the Adelaide circuit, having won 16 of the last 17 races.
Don’t forget: The traditional two race format returns this year for the first time since 2013. There will also be two Top 10 Shootouts for the first time in Clipsal’s history, one to decide Saturdays grid, the other to decide Sundays.
FROM THE DRIVERS
David Reynolds – #9 Erebus Penrite Racing
“It’s always the toughest weekend of the year, you’ve had the longest break and going into one of the hardest tracks and longest race all year. Part of me wants to get through the weekend unscathed and the other part wants to win it, it’s just about risk management.
“The boys have worked so hard in the last few weeks to put a new car on the track and I don’t want to disappoint them. I think compared to this time last year, we are in a much better place. Last year was very different because it was our first go, everyone was new including myself, and we had a new car. I think this year we can start the season with a bit of confidence and hopefully we can gain a better result.
“It is a hard track to race on, you need to qualify well and if you can do that then you’re in for a good result. Even though it’s a long race being up the front at the start is still important. The track is very rough, very bumpy and has big curbs; you have to set your car up to ride them well. Turn 8 is probably the scariest corner, it’s 200km/h with no margin for error, which is the same for most street circuits, but this one is undoubtedly the hardest.”
Dale Wood – #99 Erebus GB Galvanizing Racing
“Going into the first event of the year there’s always that question mark over how you’re going to go and how it’s going to roll out. With a new team, there are lots of new things and new procedures to put in place, but I think we had a really good test day so it certainly makes you more comfortable going into the first round. I feel well prepared, last year I also had a bad injury and couldn’t train; this year has been the opposite so it’s nice to know that box is ticked.
“Like any street circuit, Adelaide is tough. The first hit out is at one of the toughest tracks, there are lots of curbs, some really high speed and complex corners, then the treacherous turn 8; every lap you do makes you pucker up a little bit. I really like street circuits and I’ve generally gone quite well at them and watching the team towards the end of the year and seeing our cars strong, all the ingredients are there and we’ve just go to put it all together.
“Strategy will be really important, so I’ll be in Mirko’s hands there a little and we’ll certainly all need to be on our toes and be pitting on those right windows. Qualifying up the pointy end is always a plus, because then straight away you’re in the front pack and your race is often determined from there. You also want a really fast car that is going to look after its tyres; if you can get that then you’re always rewarded at the end. We’re a little unsure on what this soft tyre is going to do, I think it will perform very similar to what last year’s hard did, but it will certainly still come into play in a big way.”