After two street tracks to kick off the year it will be nice to head to two permanent, purpose-made circuits, as Supercars embarks on back-to-back weekends of racing at Symmons Plains in Tasmania this weekend and Victoria’s seaside Phillip Island Circuit the very next week.
Both venues are quite quick and I like them a lot as they offer good passing opportunities and a real driving challenge, yet they are very different in feel and length. Phillip Island is a 4.45k layout while Symmons Plains is just over half as long at 2.41k. Symmons is also very flat and has just seven corners whereas Phillip Island has 12 changes of direction and is quite undulating. The average speeds also differ slightly with Symmons average lap speed being 171kph and the Island’s 178kph, which is just fractionally under the fastest venue we visit, Bathurst at 180kph.
The top speed at Symmons is just under 270kph, which is pretty impressive considering you are hauling 1450kg of Supercar out of the tightest corner we visit anywhere on the schedule, and Phillip Island is right up there with an attention-grabbing 285kph maximum speed, again, second only to Bathurst where we top out at just under 300.
The Symmons Plains schedule will see a new rule introduced, which will ban teams working on cars after qualifying and that might throw up a few surprises, because the car we qualify with is not set up in the same configuration to how we race, so there could be people qualifying with a car more suitable to race conditions that could mean a potentially low grid spot and lots of passing needing to be done in the races. Alternatively, if you qualify with a car that is quick over just one flying lap then that would make for a long race and plenty of defensive driving as the tyres start to wear out over the journey. It will be interesting and right now I really have no idea as to which way we will go.
Both weekends of racing will feature two races, with a shorter 120k race on the Saturday and a longer 200k race on the Sunday in Tasmania, while at Phillip Island we have a 120k Saturday race over 27-laps and a longer 45-lap event on Sunday, which will be very tough on tyres.
It will be very interesting to see how these two races go in light of the recent changes made to the weight of the Mustangs and I hope to be able to continue to run near the front. However, if the collective form of the Mustangs drops off significantly then I will be very keen to see where things go from there.
For now though, I’m focussing on the driving and not the politics, so bring it on.