We’re feeling hot, hot, hot! Well, not right now but this Melbourne based team is heading to the warmth of Darwin for the next Virgin Australia Supercars event and it will certainly be a nice change from the southern winter. The Holden Racing Team however, has plenty of work to do to redeem itself after a not-so-hot performance at the Winton SuperSprint.

In preparation for the Darwin Triple Crown the workshop has been abuzz with activity and our team of engineers have been working tirelessly to overcome the qualifying performance issues that have plagued the team over the last few rounds.

In the 11 years that the coveted Triple Crown trophy has existed, no one has yet claimed it. The trophy will be presented to the driver who is successful in winning the three nominated Supercars races at Hidden Valley. In years where there were just two races, the Top Ten Shootout was the third leg of the ‘Triple Crown’ – this format returns in 2016. It’s been close, with some Supercar drivers winning two of the races, but never three!

While we are on the subject of records at Hidden Valley, there are a few more which should be noted. The Holden Racing Team holds the record for the most number of race wins at the track with 14, the most number of pole positions with nine and won the very first race way back in 1998. Garth Tander is also one of only two drivers who have been on the grid for every Hidden Valley event since it started.

The track was resurfaced at the beginning of 2015, this saw a change in the circuit characteristics from low grip and high tyre degradation to the complete opposite; high grip and low tyre degradation. As always it will be the heat that will be a major factor for the cars and drivers as track temperatures reach around 50 degrees and car cabin temperatures will hit around 65 to 70 degrees – whoa, now that’s hot!

FROM THE ENGINEER’S DESK

Alex Somerset, Research and Development Manager:
“Our biggest weakness is our qualifying performance, which stems back to the car being too unpredictable for the drivers to exploit to the maximum of the grip potential of the tyres. There has been countless hours spent delving deep into the data to understand which areas are causing this unpredictability and how we can improve this.

“A lot of work has been going into putting together the appropriate package of springs, damper, roll bars etc. to make the car as a whole work in unison for a given circuit. If we can see improvement in the balance consistency of the chassis through the corner entry and mid corner phase of the corner we will be happy. This will help our drivers in understanding the level of available grip more and in turn help them extract more from a green tyre in qualifying.”

“Hidden Valley is a circuit which features quite varied corners which test the various strengths and weaknesses of the chassis performance. It features a very long straight, the fourth longest on the calendar, two heavy braking zones, and some sweeping corners later in the lap that tests the lateral performance and ability to “flow” the car. A very high drive traction requirement is seen here as well, which is quite reminiscent of that of a street circuit.”

“The resurface prior to last year’s event changed the character of the circuit very significantly. It went from being one of the lowest grip/highest degradation circuits on the calendar to the complete opposite. Surface wise the track is quite similar in performance to what we have just experienced at Winton.”

“The weather is very different however and this places much greater stresses on the various cooling systems for both the car and driver. With higher temperatures we will see less engine power, less aerodynamic downforce and less of an issue in getting the tyres up to working temperature.”

TRACK FACTS

Track Length 2.9kms
Track Direction Anti-clockwise
Average Speed 149km/h
Top Speed 271km/h
Qualifying Lap Record 1.06.2526s
Race Lap Record 1.06.8659s
Event Format Super Sprint
Tyre Allocation 24 – soft tyre compound only