Austin Poses a Passing Challenge
By: V8 Supercars
Passing attempts will be plentiful but successful passes could be hard to make stick when V8 Supercars race in the USA for the first time this weekend in the Austin 400.
That’s the view of Brad Jones Racing’s Fabian Coulthard, who along with Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney cut laps of the new Circuit of the Americas last month in the Holden Commodore Car of the Future prototype to promote the event.
Coulthard, who has already won twice this year in his Lockwood Holden Commodore VF, drove about 30 laps of the long version of the Texas circuit, which includes a loop cut from the layout the V8s will conduct four 100km races on.
“I liked it, the tyres we were on weren’t too flash, so we probably didn’t get the full perspective of what it could be like, but it was an awesome facility,” the 30-year old Kiwi told V8Supercars.com.au. “There is not a bump in sight, it’s smooth, and it’s got a combination of everything.
“Turn one and two would have to be my favourite. It’s uphill – it’s not a little rise, it’s massive. It’s like driving up Barbagallo Raceway in reverse out of the last corner, it’s pretty extreme. It is fast, probably fifth gear and then into a first gear hairpin. So you have to get it slowed down and turned and then drive away.”
It’s those wide open corner entries and tight corner exits that have Coulthard suspecting there’s going to be plenty of over-optimistic passing attempts. They might not be successful but they will ensure the action keeps flowing.
“I think passing is going to be tough, just the nature of the corners. I think you are going to get a few people dive bombing each other because they are so wide on the entry and it tightens up on the exit. So you are going to feel like you can get away with it but really I don’t think you can.”
Making pit stops mandatory in all four races gets the thumbs up from Coulthard as a way to further spice things up, but he’s not sure about racing on the harder Dunlop control tyre.
“Ideally it would be nice if we were running on the soft tyre because some of the corners are quite tight. We just need the slightly better rotation to improve the passing opportunities.
“The pit stops will help … there will be plenty of action, it won’t by any means be a boring race.”
Coulthard said he was aware there had been some grumbles he and Courtney got an advanced look at the circuit, but dismissed the prospect of it providing any lasting advantage.
“Yes it’s good to get some laps at a place we have never been to, and yeah I think in the first Practice session it will be an advantage. But we are all professionals. Look at Jamie (Whincup), he did laps on the new part of Pukekohe before anyone else… and he won one out of the four races (at the ITM Auckland 400).
“I think it’s been played up a little bit how much of an advantage it really is. But I am not complaining that I got to do laps.”
Certainly, Coulthard will be hoping to get his Championship assault firing again after 27-4-7 finishes at the Chill Perth 360 and dropping back to sixth on points. Up until that event, he had been revelling in the competitiveness the swap to Car of the Future had delivered.
“Obviously we have equal machinery to everyone else, which is why all of a sudden it looks like I know what I am doing again,” he said. “The important thing now is to keep it going, not sit on our hands and expect the car to continue to run up the front. We have to still keep evolving and improving the car and we’ll worry about the Championship later.”