We are headed across Bass Straight for round three of the 2018 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, with Symmons Plains Raceway our home this weekend.
Off the back of Scott Pye’s maiden win at the Australian Grand Prix, the team heads to Tasmania with confidence. It’s a very different circuit, but another step forward was made last round, and we hope that continues.
It’s an all-new qualifying format for this round. After there were a few issues with cars finding space on shorter tracks in qualifying last year, it will be a three-part session for each of the races.
On Saturday, the fastest ten runners across Friday’s two practice sessions will advance immediately to Qualifying 2, with the slowest 16 to contest a 10-minute Qualifying 1 shootout.
The fastest six runners from Qualifying 1 also progress into Qualifying 2.
A final Qualifying 3 hit-out then follows for the fastest 10 drivers from Qualifying 2.
The process will be repeated on Sunday, with the initial order taken from Sunday morning’s sole practice session.
Symmons Plains is a unique track. It’s only 2.41kms long, so the lap times are regularly in the low 50 second barrier.
That means qualifying is vital, because passing can be tricky.
The turn-four hairpin is one of the most well-known corners in Australian motorsport. It requires near-on full lock to get around.
The top of the track slopes down to the apex, so it’s a great passing opportunity, but also the chance to hang around the outside and drag the inside car down the back straight.
It’s a critical corner to get right as it sets up the rest of the lap. You want to be quick out of there.
Being a SuperSprint round, there will be a 120km race on Saturday, and a 200km race Sunday.
In the forefront of everyone’s mind is 12-months ago; one almighty crash on the Saturday that took out 11-cars. It ended JC’s weekend, and the boys worked through the night to get Scott’s car back on the grid Sunday. Everyone is hoping that doesn’t repeat again.
The weather looks good, the truck is on the water as we speak, it's time to get to work.
“It was amazing to get the win at the Grand Prix, but you have to switch on to the next one pretty quickly. I know the next one will be just as hard as the first.
“Tassie is a really tricky track. It’s not long, but it’s technical and the lap times are close, so you’ve got to be on the mark or you can find yourself down the order.
“I think as a team we took another step forward at the Grand Prix, but we’ve got to keep our heads down and keep working hard.
“After the break, I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel.”
“I’m looking forward to getting to Launceston this year. Last year was disappointing missing out on Sunday after the accident, so I can’t wait to get back and race there.
“We didn’t have the best luck at the Grand Prix, but balance and the raw speed of the car was good, which is encouraging.
“The new qualifying format will mix things up, it’s going to make the final runs in practice a bit more interesting!”