Friday 1 March 2013 6:00
By: V8 Supercars
THE FIRST day back at School is often a case of learning the ropes, meeting new friends and getting things set for the year ahead.
Not so at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide, the opening event of the 2013 V8 Supercars championship.
The start of the V8’s bold new world with new brands, new sponsors and new faces behind the wheel is also matched by one of the busiest days of the entire season, at least on track.
The V8’s will take in no less than five sessions tomorrow with the lucky ten that make the shootout on track six times across a seven-hour period. Friday at Clipsal is intense, full-on and generally, action packed.
WHAT’S ON TRACK?
There will be four separate practice sessions on track today, each 30 minutes in duration. It will mark the first time that all 28 cars 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, Mark Winterbottom the fastest (1m21.1303s), less than one-tenth in front of teammate Will Davison. The newly-liveried Pepsi Max Crew Fords from Ford Performance Racing will be keen to start their 2013 season the way they began their last.
Less than 50-minutes after the fourth and final practice session is finished, all cars will be back on track for twenty intense minutes of qualifying that will set grid positions 11-28 for tomorrow's first 250km leg of the Clipsal 500.
Last year Mark Winterbottom took provisional pole (before the shootout shuffled the Top 10) with a then-record lap of 1m20.81s. At Clipsal, qualifying is usually exceedingly close: The top three cars in qualifying 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 pole position that sees driver and car taking on the challenging and unforgiving 3.22km circuit, one on one.
Craig Lowndes was the qualifying king of Adelaide last year, converting second position in qualifying to pole position in the shootout with a lap just 0.017s faster than fellow Holden star, Garth Tander.
Six sessions and ultimately, the prize of the first ARMOR ALL 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 affair racing 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:
The closest race-winning margin at the Clipsal 500 is 0.5420s – on Saturday in 2011 when Garth Tander led home Jamie Whincup.
The biggest race-winning margin is 14.0273s – on Saturday in 2009 when Jamie Whincup led home Lee Holdsworth.
The most cars on the lead lap at the end of a race is 20 - on Saturday in both 2010 and 2011.
The lowest grid position of a race winner in the Clipsal 500 remains a record that won’t be broken for a very long time, considering the current grid size of 28 cars for the V8 Supercars Championship. Mark Skaife started 38th and won the Sunday race back in 2000.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR
Friday at the Clipsal 500 is about one thing; keeping the car out of the fence.
The unforgiving 3.22km circuit is known to bite – and it’s not just the famous turn eight (a corner V8Supercars.com.au heard referred to as ‘ping pong corner’ on Thursday!) that can bite.
Remember last year, when Jonathan Webb and Greg Murphy had their monster incident in qualifying? Accidents like that can shape a season, 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-inevitable contact at Turn Eight are things that can derail a weekend – and it’s this weekend more so than ever before that teams and drivers need track time.
With new cars and new packages to sort, every lap will count today.
It will also be worth keeping an eye on the timing monitor early in the day. Whilst practice times don’t mean a great deal, this will be the first meaningful weekend where we will be able to see just how much quicker V8 Supercars’ Car of the Future will be than the existing machines.
Finally, watch the Shootout - it will be live on the Seven Network around Australia. Outside of Mount Panorama’s famous one lap for glory, there are few times in the year you’ll see a more committed eighty-odd seconds from a V8 Supercar and its driver.