Track cries out for refit
IAM lucky because I have two home tracks. Queensland Raceway is my new home and test track, but I grew up racing and testing at Winton where we are this weekend. I’ve raced here in go karts and Formula Ford, and it was my test track when I was with HRT, Gibson Motorsport and FPR, so it’s a track I know extremely well.
A few years ago it had an upgrade with an extension and new pits but, I hate to say, it needs much more.
V8 Supercars has simply outgrown it.
It’s a great circuit for openwheelers, historics and motorcycles with its multi-directional changes. But we never get into top gear here and it’s too narrow for passing, so we don’t get a chance to showcase our V8 race cars.
Our category is a lot more professional these days with multimillion-dollar transporters and race cars, merchandise and team presentation, but some tracks just aren’t keeping pace.
When you compare Winton with some of the circuits in the Mid-East and our own street circuits, such as Adelaide and Townsville, it just doesn’t stack up.
I’d like to see it developed, rather than scrapped because we still get a fantastic crowd there.
And I should also point out I won twice there last year.
However, before anyone gets too excited, that was on last year’s soft-tyre option rule.
We’re back there on soft tyres, but this time it’s five sets of softs for the whole weekend, not just one set.
Last year I was able to pass up the inside, around the outside, almost anywhere I wanted because we had preserved our soft tyres and were much faster than those who were still on the control tyre or worn softs.
The problem everyone will face will be getting the initial temperature into the tyres especially for qualifying and the one-lap top 10 Shootout. The soft tyre reacts to heat, so we won’t go anywhere near as fast as we did at Queens- land Raceway. But they also won’t wear out as fast, so there won’t be that big difference in car speeds that there was at QR between cars on new and old rubber.
Winton is notorious for being difficult to pass so our pit strategy will be very important. We will have to try to leapfrog cars via the pits rather than passing them on track.
Winton is also notorious for a boggy in-field if it rains.
If you go off, nine times out of 10 you might not come back on again. I’m speaking from experience here.
You may also remember Marcos Ambrose running off near the back straight and getting stuck. He got out of his car and let the tyres down to get back to the pits.
Skaifey also gets another drive this weekend in practice to get him used to the car for our partnership in the enduro rounds.
We’ll make some more cabin adjustments for him so he should be set for his rookie test day at QR.
Skaifey knows Winton like the back of his hand because it’s his old test track, so he should be able to give some vital feedback.
It’s also important for him to start building a working relationship with Jeromy Moore, our race engineer. V8 SUPERCARS will race on the streets of Hamilton for at least another seven years under a deal with the New Zealand organisers. The event is claimed as the country’s biggest annual sporting event with a three-day crowd of more than 100,000. MARCOS Ambrose was seventh in qualifying for the Nascar race at Darlington last weekend, but he could only manage 25th in the race. AUSTRALIAN Superbike Championship titleholder Josh Waters has earned a test with the Rockstar Makita Suzuki AMA Superbike team early next month.
Outgrown: V8 Supercars needs track improvements at Winton.