WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The Holden Racing Team is going west, no this isn’t a Village People song, the drivers and crew are heading to Barbagallo Raceway in Perth, Western Australia, for the next round of the V8 Supercars Championship.  The tight turn-around between events has been keeping everyone very busy at HQ, but the team did manage to squeeze in a vital test day at Winton last week.

Barbagallo Raceway (or Wanneroo Raceway as it was formerly know) has been a happy hunting ground for the Team which currently holds a number of prestigious records at the circuit.  HRT holds the record for the most number of race wins with a total of 20.  No other team in the category even has double digits so you can expect HRT to hold on to this one for some time yet.  

HRT also holds the record for most number of wins in a row with 10, and it was Greg Murphy who won all bar one of them.  Finally, the Team holds the record for the most number of pole positions taken in a row with six.

Garth Tander is also one of only six drivers who has taken a clean sweep of race wins over a weekend, he did this in 2007.  Unfortunately James Courtney is yet to score a win, podium or pole position at the circuit but you can expect qualifying times to be close, very close.  History shows that out of 48 pole positions at Barbagallo, 19 have been won by less than one tenth of a second, and 30 by less than two tenths.

The V8 Supercars Championship continues to shake up the racing format and tyre allowance.  Only soft compound tyres are allocated for the weekend, and just one longer race is scheduled for Saturday and one race on Sunday.

FROM THE ENGINEER’S DESK

Blake Smith, Race Engineer #2 Holden VF Commodore

“At our recent test day our aim was to try and improve the consistency of balance in the car, the only way to confirm if achieving this goal converts into relative performance is to compare with the rest of the field at the race meeting and make incremental improvements from there.” 

“The difficult part of Perth is the very high tyre degradation due to the long loaded corners and the sandy surface. This ultimately means that any changes made to the car are clouded by the rapid drop off in tyre performance, so it’s very difficult to get an accurate read on the performance gain or loss. This makes the Friday Practice pretty tough going for drivers and engineers.”

“The soft compound tyre is very suited to Perth, the soft tyre gives a lot of extra grip in long corners and the drivers like the extra confidence it brings, but the sandy surface and high loadings wear the tyres out quickly so the performance drops away very quickly.”

“The drop off in tyre grip also makes the Saturday strategy particularly interesting as those who pit early will degrade and those that pit late will run them down at the end, as long as we don’t have safety Car intervention it could be some of the best Saturday viewing this year.”

“The one race per day format introduces some pit stops on the Saturday race which involves the whole team and makes the drivers manage their speed during the race, this brings more excitement to Saturday.  The tyre management this year is also a lot better so we don’t have to compromise tyres between each day so there is more opportunity to see some flat out racing.”

Alistair McVean, Race Engineer #22 Holden VF Commodore

“We felt we had a positive test day exploring some new directions with the car setup with the aim of improving our performance on circuits where we lack enough consistency of balance to provide a positive platform for our drivers to exploit.”  

“Perth is characterised by very long duration corners which test the lateral performance of the car.  The majority of the corners are right handers which in theory allows the setup to be biased to turning that direction.  Care needs to be taken though as the left hand corner that takes you up and over the hill is a critical corner where you can drop a significant amount of time.  The other very critical factor is the low grip level from the surface and the impact this has on both the feeling the car gives back to the driver and also on the level of tyre degradation.”

“The track surface at Perth has taken a beating from being in close proximity to a lot of sand and being in a windy location. The track surface therefore cops a lot of sand blasting that has worn away the best of the track surface. This has taken the goodness out of the track which has significant implications on how you set the car up to allow the drivers to extract lap time from a surface that does not want to play any part in the process.”

“I like the new race format.  From an engineer’s perspective it is a more enjoyable format as the combination of only one qualifying session along with a longer race means there is less emphasis on qualifying and more on the racing.  In my opinion this is the way it should be.  The reduction in races and the change in the tyre allocations now means we can do the job properly in terms of racing and don’t have to scrimp and scrounge our way through a weekend in terms of managing the rubber.  This ensures a much more aggressive approach to the racing than we would have seen last year.”  

TRACK FACTS

Track Length 2.42km

Track Direction Clockwise

Average Speed 157km/h

Top Speed 252km/h

Qualifying Lap Record 54.9898s

Race Lap Record 55.9440s

Event Format Super Sprint

Tyre Allocation 24 – soft tyre compound only