Preview: Clipsal 500
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
A new season. A new chapter. The same team. The same goal.
Yep, it’s Clipsal 500 time, and we’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll in 2017.
After what seems like an eternity since Sydney 2016, this weekend we are firing up the Mobil 1 HSV Racing cars for the first 2017 Virgin Australian Supercars Championship round, with eyes firmly focused on getting the job done on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
After a successful shakedown of the Walkinshaw powered machines at Sydney Motorsport Park last week, the team is ready for what the streets of Adelaide hold.
In terms of events, they don’t come much tougher. It’s a weekend that puts everything under the microscope.
The drivers will battle cockpit temperatures in excessive of 60 degrees if it’s a South Australian scorcher, each race is 250 kilometres long, the track is known as a concrete jungle, and no one has raced a Supercar since the first weekend of December last year.
For James Courtney, the Adelaide Parklands Circuit has been a happy hunting ground in recent times. The last three years, JC has been on the top step of the podium in one of the races across the weekend.
That’s something he hopes continues.
For Scott Pye, it will be the first time he takes the starting grid in his new colours.
It didn’t take him long to feel at home in his 2017 ride at the test day, which allowed him to knuckle down on car set up and tyre information in the afternoon session.
He is looking to continue his qualifying form from 2016, after taking pole in Saturday’s first race.
The Clipsal 500 also sees the first race on one of the two new Dunlop control tyre compounds for 2017. This weekend, we will be using the soft compound, which is the harder of the two new tyres.
On the team front, Walkinshaw have started 38 races on the streets of Adelaide since 1999, getting the win in 14 of those. Add to that five pole positions across the year, and it’s a track we perform well at.
The cars hit the track from the first time on Friday, before two 250 kilometre races take place on Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
From the cockpit
“I’m looking forward to just really getting back behind the wheel and driving again. It’s been a rather long off-season, I’m just excited to get back out there that’s for sure.
“The way we finished last year and the success we’ve had there in the past are two really good reasons to be confident. It’s a great, exciting time of year, everything’s new from the driver line ups to the liveries, but on the other hand the results have been good so you always enjoy going back to somewhere you have had success.
“In terms of the driving challenges we face, the biggest thing is that it’s probably more of a mental thing than anything. You start this weekend knowing how hot and how hard it is, but then once you go to sleep Saturday you know you have to wake up and do it all again.
“It’s a challenging weekend, both mentally and physically.”
“It has felt like the break has been longer than usual. Being more excited than ever about getting in the car has made it feel like a long time.
“For me, Clipsal is a place that I want to do really well at. It’s a favourite of mine, and because it’s my home event, you really want to tick that box and stand on the top step of the podium.
“Having some really good speed their last year was promising, and now moving over to Mobil 1 HSV Racing, they have done well there in the past, so I’m really excited to see what the package has.
“The test day was a busy one for us, having to do a few things on track in the morning that you can’t do at the shop, but in terms of the balance of the car, I feel confident. We made progress during the day.
“Heading into Clipsal, we are all confident of a good result.”
Track Length: 3.220kms
Average Speed: 146km/h
Top Speed: 251km/h
Races: 2 x 250km