Round Two of the V8 Supercar Championship kicks off today at Barbagallo Raceway, Western Australia.
Bannerman is watching Channel Seven’s telecast as he types this report. This is something new for motorsport broadcasting in this country, with a brand new qualifying procedure being exercised for the very first time. 55 minutes total qualifying time, with two five minute breaks between three 15 minute track sessions. The previous regime of a top ten runoff from practice sessions has been disposed of for 2007, and from B-man’s perspective, yet another refinement and improvement of a rapidly maturing formula. The top 20 from the first session go through to the second 15 minute session, with the top ten going through from there to the final session. As he types this, Mark Skaife in the HRT Commodore VE holds what is called ’P1’ or pole position with a 56.395 second lap of the 2.415 km circuit just north of Perth, and the first session has just been completed. What further spices up the qualifying process is an allowance of three sets of ’green’, or brand new tyres for qualifying, and the race(s).
In the lead-up to this weekend, HRT have finally satisfied the team ownership requirements of the Touring car Entrants Group Australia (TEGA), mentioned briefly in the previous report. As Skaife says, the team is now free to go racing. Bannerman has to admit that the VE Commodore really does look the business.
Barbagallo has been a happy hunting ground for the General over the past several seasons, the last round winner for the Blue Oval being Marcos Ambrose in 2003. It’s a difficult track with several tight corners and a couple of sweepers which seriously test the car setup and tyres. The run off turn 6 to turn 7 is all down hill and very testing on both the driver’s grip on his gonads and the car’s braking ability. Probably the most testing part of the track given the number of ’offs’ this weekend so far and we’ve not seen any real racing as yet. Jason Bright in the Britek Fujitsu Falcon is out following a massive shunt with Jason Richard’s Commodore yesterday which has seen the Falcon back on the transporter and headed back to Melbourne for repairs prior to Round Three at Pukekohe, New Zealand. The Tasman Motorsport Commodore VE of Richards was repaired overnight, and ironically seems to be quicker than Friday at this stage.
Session two has been completed. The third session is underway as this report progresses with five Fords and five Holdens now in the last ten runners. Garth Tander looks like taking pole with Skaife alongside.
Rightio, third and final session has just completed with the top ten grid positions to look like this:
|Car #||Team||Driver||Grid Time|
|888||Triple Eight Racing||Craig Lowndes||0:56.3653|
|2||Holden Racing Team||Mark Skaife||0:56.3879|
|22||Holden Racing Team||Todd Kelly||0:56.3927|
|4||Stone Brothers Racing||James Courtney||0:56.4623|
|18||Dick Johnson Racing||Will Davison||0:56.4645|
|17||Dick Johnson Racing||Steven Johnson||0:56.5458|
|88||Triple Eight Racing||Jamie Whincup||0:56.6975|
|33||Garry Rogers Motorsport||Lee Holdsworth||0:56.8341|
Less than eight-tenths of a second between them all and take note, reader, of the presence of both DJR cars, both Triple Eight cars and Lee Holdsworth driving for GRM. There are some big names left destitute in the back ends of the field. Race one in a few minutes time.
UPDATE- RACE ONE:
Race one, fifty laps, was pretty much a procession with Garth Tander never headed despite the compulsory pit stop for tyres. Probably equally predictable was the second place to current champion, Rick Kelly in the sister Toll/HSV car, followed by Craig Lowndes (888), Mark Skaife (2), and then the two DJR cars, which is the really BIG surprise thus far on a track which is notoriously difficult to set up for.