If there’s one thing everyone down pit lane has to do once in a while, it’s reset. Ask anyone in our team how much a difficult weekend affects them, and they’ll all say the same thing; there’s a moment of dispirit, but it’s only momentary before we pick ourselves up and move on.
Let’s be honest, there was no time to be moping around after Gold Coast with only five days to get the cars ready and on the plane to New Zealand.
We’re all excited about the new race format this year, with two longer races rather than the previous four shorter races. With all that being said, we’ll be doing everything we can this weekend to redeem ourselves.
History lesson: Pukekohe was the first venue outside Australia to host a round of the Championship in 2001.
What makes this track unique: It has a bit of everything – high speed, low speed, chicanes, hairpins, heavy braking zones, a longish straight, surface changes and lots of bumps. And it packs all this into just over 60s of lap time!
Grip levels: Localized resurfacing over the years have made parts very good, however they’re mixed with very poor surface that has been left untouched and makes managing the car balance difficult.
Tyre degradation: Reduced, as we return to the 2016 hard tyre we raced at Bathurst, however it still needs to be considered as the LR tyre will cop it if it’s not looked after.
Safety cars: 25 of the 36 races held at Pukekohe have seen the introduction of the Safety Car, however no VASC round has even been competed without at least one.
Watch out for: The weather – if it can rain at the Gold Coast it will almost certainly rain here, and that’s what the weather Gods have forecasted!
Did you know: David Reynolds won the second Saturday race in 2015 from pole position, before scored 2nd for the weekend.
Don’t forget: Qualifying is critical! While the races are longer this year and feature strategic elements, the winner of the race will come from the first three rows. Minimal passing opportunities, and close lap times means you need to start near the front to be there at the end.
FROM THE DRIVERS
David Reynolds – #9 Erebus Penrite Racing
“I love going to New Zealand, the fans are great and so is the track. I’ve had reasonable success there in the past and last year was quite good also; we rolled out really strong but failed to adapt our car to the everchanging track and we unfortunately went backwards over the weekend. We are a lot more aware now than we were last year so we definitely won’t make the same mistake twice. It’s forecasted to rain all weekend so that will change everything, last time we were in the rain at the Gold Coast we were pretty average but I think we know what we need to do to better ourselves and make sure we are in with the best chance for a good result.”
Dale Wood – #99 Erebus GB Galvanizing Racing
“Pukekohe is a great little track and one I enjoy coming to each year, I believe the last two corners here are two of the best corners we race on. I’m looking forward to the two longer races rather than the shorter ones we have had in the past, it will throw some excitement in the mix with strategy and you can potentially grab some extra spots during the stops. I’m keen to see how much resurfacing has been done as this could make for some very quick lap times.”
FROM THE BRAINS TRUST
Alistair McVean – Head of Engineering
“Our car has been strong across the last three circuits we have been to with front row qualifying at each, and they have all been very different circuits. Like always, we expect to be strong under braking and we tend to find our car has been quite strong across bumps so with the prevalence of significant bumps through the high-speed corners we expect to show good performances through here. In the dry our weakness continues to be managing the rear tyres across a race stint. We have made inroads over the past two events but still feel we have more to gain here to match the best in the field and we’ll be using Friday practice to test a few areas that should help. If your car is strong on tyre life you can look to undercut the opposition and stretch the tyre stints, if you are weak you will tend towards the more conservative option of splitting the stints equally.”