PRODRIVE RACING AUSTRALIA – DARWIN TRIPLE CROWN PREVIEW
Prodrive Racing Australia will draw on recent experience at Winton on the new, high-grip track surface ahead of Darwin after a month-long break between events. The similar grip levels will give engineers a base as they work on setups for the Hidden Valley circuit. Current series leader Mark Winterbottom believes the high number of variables means it's anyone's game. According to Winterbottom, drivers must be mentally fit to take on the Triple Crown, where a smart strategy could win you the race. The similarities in grip level will be a positive for Chaz Mostert, who took home the first place trophy in race one in the north last year, after displaying blistering pace on the final day at Winton. Cameron Waters will take a similar approach to that he used in the lead up to the Clipsal 500 as he prepares for Hidden Valley with cabin temperatures of over 50 degrees Celsius to challenge drivers throughout the 42 and 70 lap races. Chris Pither is confident of strong results in Darwin as the Kiwi's confidence grows in the FG X.
With three of the four Prodrive pilots having visited a warmer climate over the break, the Darwin heat will not be as much of a shock with ambient temperatures set to reach the mid-thirties. To win this year's Triple Crown, a driver will have to win both of the weekend's races, as well as take home pole position in Sunday's top ten shootout.
Mark Winterbottom - #1 The Bottle-O PRA Ford:
"It'll be really good to get up to Darwin after the break. I've always said it's one of my favourite tracks and the resurface definitely contributes to that. The resurface last year gave the track a lot more grip and if you add the soft tyre to the mix and a top speed of 270km on the straight, it's going to be really mentally tough. There are going to be so many different variables at play. The surface, the heat, the high-grip track, and strategy will no doubt play a really big part in the racing as well so if we can keep going like we have been and keep improving I think we're in with a shot. At the moment it's good to be defending the championship in such a good position. It's extremely competitive out there this year and there are so many different drivers capable of winning races so to be leading the charge shows that we're consistent, but now we need to make sure we stay consistent, keep challenging, and keep making the right calls. "
Cameron Waters - #6 Monster Energy PRA Ford:
"The break was good but I'm really keen to get back in the car now. Frosty and I went to America and it was seriously hot over there, it got up into the 40s most days in Las Vegas. We were in Townsville for a couple of days last week too so being in those warmer temperatures will definitely help before Darwin. I did part of a practice session there last year in Chaz's car as a co-driver but that has been my only experience at Hidden Valley in a Supercar. Those laps will help me ahead of this weekend but there's still a lot for me to learn because my only other experience there has been in Formula Ford and Formula 3. The corners and everything still go the same way but I've been watching a heap of footage from last year to learn everything else which will help but really I just can't wait to get behind the wheel again."
Chaz Mostert - #55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford:
"Hidden Valley hasn't been a favourite of mine in the past but we had a really good run there last year. I haven't had a lot of success there past but last year we pieced it all together and got on the podium so it'd be awesome to do that again this year. The number 55 has had a good record there too so hopefully luck is on our side this weekend. Our speed was awesome at Winton and the grip levels should be similar but the heat will throw a spanner in the works. No doubt Brad (Wischusen) will be able to work his magic and get us in a good position."
Chris Pither - #111 Super Black PRA Ford:
"After Winton I'm really excited to get back in the car. There is a lot of potential there and it's a shame that we had that break in the middle but I'm feeling refreshed and ready to give it a good run in Darwin. I'm really starting to understand the car, what it requires of me and my engineer Dilan (Talabani) and I are starting to work well together so hopefully we can do the right things, drive how we want to drive and have a consistent weekend."
Tim Edwards – Team Principal:
"Frosty and Chaz have both had strong runs in Darwin, last year in particular for Chaz so it would be really positive to see that run continue. The surface will have a similar grip level to what we saw at Winton but the heat will definitely play a part in the way things pan out. It's been great to see so many different winners this year, the competition is really tight, but I'd be great to add a few more names from our team to the winners list and there's a chance of that happening in Darwin."
EVENT NAME: Darwin Triple Crown
DATE: 17 - 19 June
LOCATION: Darwin, Northern Territory
EVENT NUMBER: 6 of 14
FORMAT: Friday – 2 x 60-min practice; Saturday – 1 x 15 min practice, 1 x 15 min qualifying, 1 x 42-lap race, Sunday –1 x 20min qualifying, 1 x top ten shootout, 1 x 70-lap race
CIRCUIT: Hidden Valley Raceway
LENGTH: 2.9-kilometres (anti-clockwise)
DESCRIPTION: Hidden Valley is a team favourite with multiple race wins recorded here over the years for PRA. The layout has the longest straight in the series, taking up 1.1 of the circuit’s 2.9 km length. The actual circuit is not considered overly difficult for the drivers, but the tropical heat – even in mid-winter, makes this without a doubt one of the toughest races on the calendar. The venue has produced some excellent races in the past and the Northern Territory fans are always out in force for this major event.
TRACK RECORD: 1m06.25s – David Reynolds, qualifying lap record (2015)
PRA BEST RESULT: 1st – Jason Bright (2006), Mark Winterbottom (2013, 2014), Chaz Mostert (2015)
1) Mark Winterbottom – Prodrive Racing: 1083
2) Scott McLaughlin – Garry Rogers Motorsport: 1056
3) Jamie Whincup – Triple Eight: 1047
12) Chaz Mostert – Prodrive Racing: 704
18) Cam Waters – Prodrive Racing: 613
24) Chris Pither – Super Black Racing: 415
1) Triple Eight: 2054 points
2) Prodrive Racing: 1711
3) Garry Rogers Motorsport: 1602