Saturday and qualifying at Winton Motor Raceway, north-eastern Victoria.
As detailed in previous posts, qualifying is now a series of fifteen minute round-robin knockouts, with the slowest 10 cars cut in the first round, then the second, leaving a fight-to-the-poll between the last 10. Winton necessitates a dramatic change in driving style from all drivers over it’s tight, bumpy 3.0 km circuit. From the fast flowing track at Pukekohe, New Zealand to a slow speed track like Winton means not only different car setups, but driver mindset changes as well. Winton is not a place where a V8 Supercar can be muscled in order to get the best from it. Rather, the brute force of 620 bhp needs to be handled with kid-gloves, applied with style and finesse. Already, as I type this and the first session is underway, Skaife, Lowndes, McConville and Jason Richards have all managed to spin.
The surprise package thus far, and this is now at the end of the second session, are the Jack Daniels cars of Jack Perkins and Shane Price. Also in the top ten are both – yes both – Garry Rogers Motorsport Commodores of Lee Holdsworth and Dean Canto. Knocked out of the second session were both Triple Eight Falcons of Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup, Mark Skaife of HRT and both Dick Johnson Racing Falcons of Steven Johnson and Will Davison. Evidence of the hard-to-handle track that Winton is. Also evident is the plethora of Holdens in the top ten. Eight Commodores and two Falcons. It seems that some aero package changes to the Fords between rounds haven’t been all that complimentary to the make. Teams will need to work hard to refine their car setups in light of these package changes to return the Ford to parity with the Holden. If they can.
End of the third and last qualifying session and the top ten grid positions have been decided.
|1||22||Holden Racing Team||Todd Kelly|
|2||16||Toll/HSV Dealer Team||Garth Tander|
|3||3||Tasman Motorsport||Jason Richards|
|4||5||Ford Performance Racing||Mark Winterbottom|
|5||7||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Shane Price|
|6||33||Valvoline Cummins Race Team||Lee Holdsworth|
|7||1||Toll/HSV Dealer Team||Rick Kelly|
|8||11||Jack Daniel’s Racing||Jack Perkins|
|9||34||Valvoline Cummins Race Team||Dean Canto|
|10||25||Fujitsu Racing||Jason Bright|
Take a note. Only one HRT vehicle and again, it’s Todd Kelly. Both GRM cars, both Jack Daniel’s cars and both Toll/HSV cars have made the cut, which bodes ill for anyone threatening to challenge Rick Kelly for this years title. Winton is NOT an easy circuit, yet these teams have produced both cars and drivers adequate to the task.
Race one coming up shortly. Another post to follow.