The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship arrives at Queensland Raceway this weekend for round nine of the series at the historic Ipswich circuit.
The typical SuperSprint format will feature one 39 lap race on Saturday afternoon and another 65-lapper on Sunday. The twisty Ipswich layout will offer a fresh challenge for the drivers with the previous round held on the streets of Townsville.
A vast contrast from the concrete barriers of Reid Park is the large gravel traps and wide open spaces of the 3.12km Ipswich circuit, minimal elevation changes and its ‘paperclip’ six turn design present some brilliant overtaking opportunities.
Constantly fluctuating air temperatures generally make this circuit a nightmare for drivers and engineers as its grip level changes at different times of the day. That, coupled with its average speed of 162km/h all point to some varied and exciting racing.
26 V8 Supercars will take to the track for practice one on Friday morning as the championship battle really starts to hot up.
Scott McLaughlin currently leads the championship standings, but only by a mere six points over Red Bull Racing’s Jamie Whincup. In this game, six points is absolutely miniscule. Every point becomes more valuable as the season passes through the halfway mark and the end is within reach.
Sitting in behind Whincup is the other Shell V-Power Racing Falcon of Fabian Coulthard. The Queenslander had a tough time on the streets of Townsville, finishing Sunday’s race way down in 21st place. The DJR Team Penske driver is determined to bounce back this weekend at Ipswich hunting for some more race wins to assist his championship prospects.
Fourth place in the championship standings lies ‘The Gis’, Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen. Van Gisbergen is 231 points behind leader McLaughlin and only 73 points behind Coulthard, although that sounds like a lot, a bite size 150 points are awarded for a race win and a whopping 300 points if you win an Endurance cup round. Realistically, most drivers can be back in the title fight with just one victory.
In all seriousness, you haven’t got a Supercars weekend without the Support Categories. Touring Car Masters, Formula 4, KUHMO Tyre V8 Touring Series and V8 Utes will all take to the Ipswich circuit this weekend in a showcase of automotive madness.
Touring Car Masters always throws up some extraordinary racing and who can forget the absolute carnage in Winton with one of the biggest pile ups you will ever see.
What about the Utes? 2017 will be the categories last year on the Supercars support card with the debut of the new formula named ‘SuperUtes’ set for 2018.
If you can’t get to the track this weekend, every minute of Supercars action will be broadcasted LIVE on Fox Sports Channel 506 with many of the support races across the weekend also being broadcasted.
The first wheel is turned with practice on Friday at 11:05am local time for the Additional drivers practice session. Qualifying kicks off on Saturday at 1:30pm and the first race that same afternoon at 4:15pm.