‘Twas the season of endurance when all through HQ, not a creature was sleeping… because there was just no time to.
It’s been full steam ahead for the team as we prepare for the three biggest events on the calendar. It kicks off at the Sandown 500 this weekend and we turn the clock back to the 70’s and 90’s in true retro fashion.
It’s no secret this is the best time of the year; they’re big races, with big points up for grabs!
History lesson: This year marks the 13th time the Sandown endure has been part of the Championship.
What makes this track unique: Two very long straights, which makes the circuit extremely sensitive to engine performance and drag minimization.
Grip levels: Mixed, some localizing resurfacing works at Turns 4 and 9 have improved levels considerable, however the braking zone into Turn 1 is average. You need a car that can deal with lots of surface variations.
Tyre degradation: Moderate, although it’s not a big stretch to run a full tank of fuel on the one set of tyres.
Run-off: Good, although there is little margin for error across the top of the hill through the fast Turn 6 – 9 complexes.
Safety cars: Since the race returned in 2003 the Safety Car has appeared in every Sandown 500.
Don’t forget: It’s a progressive grid for qualifying on Saturday; co-drivers will line up for the first qualifying race, with main drivers set to start the second.
FROM THE BRAINS TRUST
Alistair McVean – Head of Engineering
“Heading into the endurance races means you have to be really on top of your game in all areas, but in particular you need to have a car that is comfortable to drive at the limit over long distances. Fast consistent lap times make all the difference on Sunday.
“Your approach heading into the enduro’s is fundamentally the same in that we work as hard as we can to get the car to the race meeting in the fastest possible configuration we can achieve in the time frame. The only major difference is the added requirement for making a second driver comfortable in the car and the need to prepare for driver and brake pad changes. The mindset is still the same, race as hard and fast as we can and see where we end up. The days of endurance race “conservation” are over.
“We had a positive test day on Tuesday, which allowed us to focus heavily on our endurance preparation. We made good ground in this regard through the early morning running and gave the crew lots of practice for the all-important pitstops. The afternoon running was focused more on performance and trialing some different suspension concepts with a view to longer term developments. Some very positive results came out of these tests, but still require a significant amount of refinement before making it to race day. We’re looking forward to investigating these concepts further at this weekend.”