THE FIRST day back at School is often a case of learningthe ropes, meeting new friends and getting things set for the year ahead.
Not so at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide, the opening event ofthe 2013 V8 Supercars championship.
The start of the V8’s bold new world with new brands, newsponsors and new faces behind the wheel is also matched by one of the busiestdays of the entire season, at least on track.
The V8’s will take in no less than five sessions tomorrowwith the lucky ten that make the shootout on track six times across aseven-hour period. Friday at Clipsal is intense, full-on and generally, actionpacked.
There will be four separate practice sessions on tracktoday, each 30 minutes in duration. It will mark the first time that all 28cars will hit the track at the same time this year - given two Nissan Motorsport and one Dick Johnson Racing entry missed the Sydney Motorsport Park test last week.
Last year’s practice sessions at the Clipsal 500 were a Ford benefit, MarkWinterbottom the fastest (1m21.1303s), less than one-tenth in front of teammateWill Davison. The newly-liveried Pepsi Max Crew Fords from Ford PerformanceRacing will be keen to start their 2013 season the way they began their last.
Less than 50-minutes after the fourth and final practice sessionis finished, all cars will be back on track for twenty intense minutes ofqualifying that will set grid positions 11-28 for tomorrow's first 250km leg ofthe Clipsal 500.
Last year Mark Winterbottom took provisional pole (beforethe shootout shuffled the Top 10) with a then-record lap of 1m20.81s. AtClipsal, qualifying is usually exceedingly close: The top three cars inqualifying last year were covered by just 0.04s and the top ten by just 0.42.
Then comes the big one: the top 10 shootout for poleposition that sees driver and car taking on the challenging and unforgiving3.22km circuit, one on one.
Craig Lowndes was the qualifying king of Adelaide lastyear, converting second position in qualifying to pole position in the shootoutwith a lap just 0.017s faster than fellow Holden star, Garth Tander.
Six sessions and ultimately, the prize of the first ARMORALL pole award of the season: Friday has it all at the Clipsal 500.
The Dunlop V8 Supercars will be on track twice:qualifying is scheduled for 9:05am (local time) with race one an evening affairracing into the setting sun, at 17:35pm.
Qualifying and the Shootout will be shown live on the Seven Network today - check your local guides for details.
KEY CLIPSAL 500 STATS WRAP:
Theclosest race-winning margin at the Clipsal 500 is 0.5420s – on Saturday in 2011when Garth Tander led home Jamie Whincup.
The biggest race-winning margin is 14.0273s – on Saturday in 2009when Jamie Whincup led home Lee Holdsworth.
The most cars on the lead lap at the end of a race is 20 - onSaturday in both 2010 and 2011.
The lowest grid position of a race winner in the Clipsal 500remains a record that won’t be broken for a very long time, considering thecurrent grid size of 28 cars for the V8 Supercars Championship. Mark Skaifestarted 38th and won the Sunday race back in 2000.
WHATTO WATCH OUT FOR
Friday at the Clipsal 500 is about one thing; keeping thecar out of the fence.
The unforgiving 3.22km circuit is known to bite – and it’snot just the famous turn eight (a corner V8Supercars.com.au heard referred toas ‘ping pong corner’ on Thursday!) that can bite.
Remember last year, when Jonathan Webb and Greg Murphyhad their monster incident in qualifying? Accidents like that can shape aseason, and avoiding them on Friday – a day where plenty of laps are logged –will be key.
But it’s the ‘rookie mistakes’ that are what really hurt:the odd brush of the wall that bends a steering arm, or the almost-inevitablecontact at Turn Eight are things that can derail a weekend – and it’s thisweekend more so than ever before that teams and drivers need track time.
With new cars and new packages to sort, every lap willcount today.
It will also be worth keeping an eye on the timingmonitor early in the day. Whilst practice times don’t mean a great deal, thiswill be the first meaningful weekend where we will be able to see just how muchquicker V8 Supercars’ Car of the Future will be than the existing machines.
Finally, watch the Shootout - it will be live on theSeven Network around Australia. Outside of Mount Panorama’s famous one lap for glory, thereare few times in the year you’ll see a more committed eighty-odd seconds from aV8 Supercar and its driver.
- Thisis the first time in V8 Supercar / Australian Touring Car Championship historythat the entire field of cars will be making their debut. There will be 15Holden Commodores, Six Ford Falcon’s, Four Nissan Altima’s and three Mercedes-BenzE63 AMG entries making up the 28 car field.
- WithSteven Johnson stepping down from full-time driving duties with Dick JohnsonRacing and focusing on his role as General Manager, this year’s Clipsal 500will be the first time since the final round of the 1980 ATCC at Oran Park thatthere has not been a member of the Johnson family competing in an ATCC/V8SCevent. Since the beginning of the 1981 season there has been a Johnson –whether it be Dick, Steven or both – on the grid for 351 consecutive ATCC/V8SCevents, spanning 33 seasons. From the 1999 Queensland 500 onwards, Johnson Jnrhas competed in 178 ATCC/V8SC consecutive events.
- The lasttime a ‘factory’ Nissan car started a round of the V8 Supercars / AustralianTouring Car Championship, it won: Mark Skaife winning the final round of the1992 season on June 21, 1992 at Oran Park in Sydney. It was the 28thATCC / V8SC win for Nissan – the brand still third behind Holden and Ford onthe all-time list.
- The debut of ErebusMotorsport V8 and its three Mercedes-Benz E63 AMGs marks the first time aMercedes-Benz has competed in an ATCC/V8SC event since 1990. The datewas July 16, 1990 at the final round of the Australian Touring Car Championshipat Oran Park in Sydney and Phil Ward (who later founded the Aussie Racing Carscategory) drove his Mercedes-Benz 190E to 13th overall after qualifying 23rd.
- JamieWhincup has led laps in the last 11 straight races in Adelaide; he’s led 375laps (1207km!) of the Clipsal 500 since joining Triple Eight in 2006.
- CraigLowndes sits just one win away from equalling the all time V8SC / ATCC winsrecord, currently held by Mark Skaife. Lowndes has a staggering 89 wins to hiscredit.
- RussellIngall, Craig Lowndes and Garth Tander are the only three drivers on the gridto have started every single Clipsal 500 since the event began in 1999.
- Fivedrivers make their Clipsal 500 debuts this weekend: Maro Engel (SP ToolsRacing), Johnny Reid (Dick Johnson Racing), Tim Blanchard (Dick JohnsonRacing), Scott McLaughlin (Fujistu Racing) and Scott Pye (Lucas DumbrellMotorsport).
- MarkWinterbottom has qualified third on the streets of Adelaide FIVE times – yet hasnever started on the front row of the grid!