Engineer Preview: ITM 500 Auckland

23 | 04 | 2014 - Engineer Preview: ITM 500 Auckland

Chaz Mostert has stepped up to the factory Ford team this season, and engineer Adam DeBorre is at home in the FPR fold after being loaned out with Mostert last year to DJR.

DeBorre explained the ins and outs tackling the 2.91km Pukekohe Park circuit ? which his 22-year old driver will face for the first time in a V8 Supercar this week. 

?Thankfully the track isn?t completely new to him as Chaz raced/tested there last year in the NZ Championship so he has a fair idea on what to expect,? DeBorre said.

?Although driving the current generation V8 Supercar there will be a challenge for him on Friday. Thankfully we have some very strong teammates and a lot of data, which will help us during the day.  

?We will be rolling out with our baseline setup, so the car should feel close to what he has had at other events this year which I think helps him get the most out of the package. 

?The AGP was a new track for Chaz in a supercar as well this year and we managed to qualify in the top 10 there so I think he will get his head around the track pretty quickly.?

Ahead of this weekend?s unique SuperSprint format, which sees three 100km races and Sunday?s feature 200km dash, DeBorre explained the details to What are the main characteristics of the circuit?

DeBorre: ?The Pukekohe layout is very unique as it?s a mixture of high-speed near 200km/h corners, combined with four tight corners where braking, rotation and drive will be the priority. 

?This track see some of the highest damper travels and velocities we see at any circuit and we experience multiple surface changes so you have got yourself a very challenging race track.

?To be quick at this track you need very good ride control so that the driver is confident to attack the high commitment section of the track (turns one, two, and nine, 10, 11), but you also need a car that has a lot a of downforce as that will help a lot in this area. 

?The back part of the track is more about mechanical grip and the ability to get the power to the ground as fast as possible as the two slowest corners on the track precede the fastest section and a lot of time can be found (or lost) here.?

How will the weekend?s format affect setup and strategy?

?This is the first time we have raced on the same day as rolling out. 

?With minimal time between practice, qualifying and race it will be important to make sure your starting point is something your driver can find the limit with quickly. 

?The bigger teams will have an advantage here as there is great opportunity to have different setups across multiple cars, so that finding the ideal settings for that given day can be achieved quickly. 

?Thankfully this event isn?t soft tyres and we aren?t going into a fuel race on day one. That will reduce the importance of tyre life for that first race, although the cars that have strengths here will be able to pass a few cars during the race. 

?As at any event, qualifying is critical and with the 100km races you need to qualify strongly to get a result. There just isn?t enough degradation on the hard tyre to really be able to come through the field like we saw at Winton, even if you take a safety car like (Russell) Ingall did.

?The 200km events open up the importance of a good race car as you can strategise a better position if you have car speed but not track position. 

?Stopping early at this event could work if you can maximise the clean air. It will be similar to Symmons Plains in that you will have to be mindful of going a lap down if you do stop early.  

?The other pitfall of stopping early is that a Safety Car pretty much ensures those that stop late have a massive fuel in hand advantage over the early stoppers and will jump them at the next stop. 

?If you don?t have track position you also have the risk of queuing behind your teammate, which adds to the complication of when to pit. 

?The Sunday races are a lot more complex than we have seen before in this Championship and I think add an extra spice, as you have to track and monitor so many different cars as you might not be racing the car directly in front or behind you, depending on how much fuel they added at their stop.?

What is the tyre allocation and what sort of degradation are you expecting? How will this impact setup and strategy, particularly in the 200km race?

?With 32 hard tyres allocated to this event and historically minimal degradation the tyre allocation we have is probably the easiest to manage of the year. 

?How you run your new tyres will depend on what lap you think you will achieve your fastest time. Last year when the track temp was high on Friday we were able to do our best lap on the first flyer but when conditions cooled later in the weekend we found lap two or three was the fastest.

?Because of this and the 10-minute session we have on Saturday will determine if you do one or two new tyre runs in each of those 10-minute sessions.

?The 20-minute sessions are easier to manage and most teams will use two sets of new tyres in each of those sessions. You have the luxury of time in the 20 min quals so these are all about gearing up for the last five minutes when most of the times are posted.

?This is something each team will learn on Friday where most teams will use three or four new sets of tyres before the first race. 

?The 100km races only require one set of tyres and I doubt you will get enough of a pace gain by stopping under Safety Car to warrant the track position loss for doing so.?

What aspects of the circuit are you expecting to suit your cars and what do you have to be mindful of?

?I?m hoping the track will suit the FPR cars based on last year?s performance, although a lot has changed in a year.  

?The car should be quite strong in the long loaded corners as being able to maintain a high apex speed has generally been a strength. 

?The bumps are a concern as you don?t want to compromise on the mechanical set-up just to improve the car in this area. 

?So maintaining a strong platform for the high speed corners while also being subtle enough not to be upset by the bumps will be the challenge and I think if you can nail that you will be competitive.? 

What are you expecting to be the most important thing to do well this weekend?

?For the three 100km races it?s all about qualifying ? narrowing in on that qualifying setup to get the best from the tyres and the track conditions. That will set up your weekend and you can then adjust the car for tyre life and make it into a race car pretty easily. 

?It?s all about that qualifying speed which will be a key focus of car 6 going into the event, as we haven?t qualified where we feel we should be and then found ourselves having to do too much work in the race.?

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Full name:  Adam DeBorre 
Time with team:  Second year 
Time in V8 Supercars:  Eight years
Drivers engineered:

Pre V8 Supercars ? Tim Sugden, Emmanuel Collard, Tim Harvey, Steve Soper, Marc Lieb, Mike Rockenfellar, Vitantonio Liuzzi.

In V8 Supercars ? Lee Holdsworth, Jason Richards, Greg Murphy, Tony D?Alberto, Chaz Mostert.

Career highlights:

FIA GT, British GT, and Asian Carrera Cup Driver/Teams Champion.

V8 Supercars ? Willowbank 2013, Bathurst 2008.

Best results at Pukekohe: Seventh ? Jason Richards 2007
Origins:  Merimbula
Outside of racing:  Family, fishing.
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