Queensland Raceway looks simple on paper, but as we all know, looks can be deceiving.
It was quickly dubbed the ‘Paperclip’ when it opened in 1999 because of its six-turn design and flat as a pancake layout. Nonetheless, engineers need to compromise between the high-speed requirements of turns 1 and 2, and the slow-speed requirements for the remainder of the lap.
This weekend we return to the familiar SuperSprint format with a 120-kilometre race on Saturday and 200-kilometre on Sunday. Luke and Chris also make a return, with the two stepping back in the car on Friday, for the Additional Driver’s Practice.
History lesson: The team holds the race lap record at QR – a 1:10.0423 set by Lee Holdsworth in 2014.
What makes this track unique: Just how simple it is!
Grip levels: Average – the track was resurfaced in 2011 but has since degraded.
Tyre degradation: The left-hand tyres need to be managed and allows for some deviation in strategy to be employed.
Run-off: Lots of room for error, it will take a big mistake or issue to reach something solid.
Safety cars: The Safety Car has appeared in only 11 of the 42 Supercars Championship races held at Ipswich – just 26.2%.
Did you know: We’re back in 5th in the Team’s Championship after passing BJR at Townsville!
FROM THE DRIVERS
David Reynolds – #9 Erebus Penrite Racing
“Queensland and I have a hate-hate relationship; it hates me and I hate it. I’ve had a couple of fourth-places but have never got on the podium. It’s a very unique track where the first sector with the two right-hand corners is fast, and the rest of the lap is quite slow.
“There are so many lines you can take and as a driver it can be confusing, I’ve seen fast cars take the traditional line and square off the corner and ones hug the inside. For me, I’ll stick to one line for the entire weekend and try to make my car suit that style of line, and not copy what the other fast guys are doing.
“We have learnt a lot from the last round; every time we leave a meeting we have a clear understanding of what we have done and where we’re heading and I think some teams don’t and that’s where we have an advantage.“
Dale Wood – #9 Erebus GB Galvanizing Racing
“It’s a tough place and obviously you expect the home teams to be strong there, but I reckon with what we have learnt over the last couple of rounds, we should be alright. I haven’t had the greatest last couple of rounds, but I think at Townsville we learnt a lot and there is some good stuff we are going to try and some things that could potentially make our cars quite good. Mirko and my engineer have also made some good steps so I’m feeling positive about the weekend.
“On paper, it’s a very simple and boring track, but generally what goes hand in hand with that is it means you have to get every aspect of it right and it’s actually quite a tricky track to get right. Turns 3 and 6 are unique; they’re both very long 180° corners and not traditional hairpins.
“The surface is pretty tired so that certainly makes it hard on your tyres. Tyre wear is really hard on the left-hand tyres and not so bad on the right-hand, so that is something drivers have to try and manage the best they can, and where strategy could come into play over the weekend.”
FROM THE BRAINS TRUST
Alistair McVean – Head of Engineering
“The circuit is a big compromise between the high-speed requirements of the first two corners and the slow speed requirements of the remaining four corners. You can often find cars are strong in the first sector but then weak for the remainder of the lap. The biggest challenge we face is matching the performance of the car through both the high and low speed corners. The two sections of the track pose very different setup challenges and will not necessarily respond to the same setup changes. As more lap time is generally available in slower speed corners, these will generally be the focus, with the high-speed balance monitored to ensure it remains at least acceptable to the driver.
“The circuit is also heavily biased to RH corners which allows for a degree of asymmetry to be dialed into the cars. You also need to have very strong lateral drive traction to ensure you can apply as much throttle as possible whilst still turning the car. The long-loaded exits of turns 3 and 6 can make or break your cars performance.
“The key for us will be to ensure we stay on top of the differing requirements for the qualifying and race balance. We have a very good understanding of what we need to do in this regard having built a very good data set from the last three races to look back on and guide us. Once again, we have a long list of development items to work through so we also need to remain focused and disciplined through practice to ensure we fully analyze all the changes and ensure we don’t miss any details from these tests that could help as the weekend rolls on.”