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V8 racer Percat takes fans on a lap around Willowbank

HIGH-SPEED INSIGHTS: V8 Supercars driver Nick Percat, of Walkinshaw Racing, explains the challenges of negotiating Queensland Raceway’s circuit (above) during races.
HIGH-SPEED INSIGHTS: V8 Supercars driver Nick Percat, of Walkinshaw Racing, explains the challenges of negotiating Queensland Raceway’s circuit (above) during races. Mark Horsburgh

WITH the Coates Hire Ipswich 400 returning to Queensland Raceway on Friday, V8 Supercars driver Nick Percat takes fans on a lap around the Willowbank circuit.

Here's Percat's tour.

"I enjoy racing at Queensland Raceway and have gone well there in the past, winning in the Formula Ford back in 2008," Percat said.

"It's the test track of all the non-Victorian based V8 Supercars teams and because of this they are hard to beat.

"Although Queensland Raceway, or the paper clip as it's affectionately known, looks like a pretty simple track with only six corners, there is a bit more to it when racing.

"I approach the front straight past pit lane in fifth gear as I go into the turn one braking zone where there are some pretty heavy bumps on turn in. These can really upset the balance of the car and throw the rear end out.

"This is a corner where you have to be totally confident in the car to give it 100 per cent and get your best lap time.

"Coming out of turn one, I always look at the dash and see if I'm on target for a decent lap time. If I don't get it right, I tend to back out and have another go the next lap to save my tyres.

"You need to have good rear stability on turn in, as I tackle it in fourth gear, hit the apex and be back at full throttle on exit, then on to the short straight between turns one and two.

"Staying in fourth gear for the short squirt up to turn two, I brake basically on turn-in. It's not a heavy brake as I'm trying to avoid locking the inside front tyre and also washing off too much corner speed.

"I brake just hard enough to get the weight over the front of the car and get some front grip.

"Before getting back on throttle, I hug the inside white line for as long as I can before drifting out wide on exit.

"Back to full throttle by the exit kerb and then up through fifth and sixth gears along the back straight before the biggest braking zone on the track at turn three, plus the best passing opportunity on track.

"It's really important to hit the braking marker spot on as it's easy to out-brake yourself and end up in the gravel trap, but if I brake too early, I'll lose a lot of time.

"I brake at about the 150 marker and change down to second gear before turn-in. There are a lot of small bumps in the braking zone so I am careful not to lock a tyre. I tend to release a little bit of brake pressure to settle the car over these bumps before turn in.

"I carry a lot of speed into this corner that is not your typical turn, but more of a double apex corner where the slowest speed is mid-corner after I've clipped the first apex and then turn the car to the second apex and slowly build the throttle.

"It's very hard to get power down here whilst building up to third gear on exit, then fourth and fifth before Turn 4.

"I brake just past the flag point on the right and again this is a really important corner for nailing the braking zone. It's possible to carry a lot of speed into this corner and very easy to lose time by 'over' slowing the car.

"Into second gear before turn-in, but if I have strong front grip, I will take it in third. Apex the corner and if I'm in second gear, I short-change into third on exit.

"This is a the most difficult section of the track between four and five where I can gain a lot of time through if the balance of my car is set up right. I should be able to turn into five 'on throttle' and feather it a little mid-corner to get some front grip before getting hard on the throttle again at the apex and be on full throttle by the exit.

"Coming into turn six, I am in fifth gear and brake just after the 100 marker. It's a difficult braking zone; I change down to third and at the last moment down to second as I turn-in and carry a lot of trail brake to about the mid-corner.

"Like turn three, it's another double apex. The mid-corner is the slowest part of the turn and I slow the car enough to get the front grip back, point it at the second apex and make the exit as straight as possible to get the best run out whilst accelerating up through the gears to cross the line before braking for turn one again.

"A good lap on the soft tyres will see a time of a mid-one minute nine seconds appear on the dash".

 

Major event

  • Circuit: Queensland Raceway at Willowbank.
  • Circuit length: 3.12km.
  • Qualifying format: Two 10 minute, one 20 minute qualifying session.
  • Race format: Two 33 lap races (100km), one 65 lap race (200km).
  • Schedule: Friday - Practice sessions from 10.10am. Saturday: Qualifying from 11.25am. Racing (33 laps) from 2.25pm. Sunday: Qualifying from 12.55pm. Racing (65 laps) from 3.50pm.

Championship pointscore

(after 22 of 38 races): 1. Mark Winterbottom 1634; 2. Jamie Whincup 1538; 3. Fabian Coulthard 1361; 4. Shane Van Gisbergen 1355; 5. James Courtney 1354; 6. Craig Lowndes 1352; 7. Scott McLaughlin 1211; 8. Garth Tander 1135; 9. David Reynolds 1099; 10. Chaz Mostert 1098.

Tickets: Book now at ticketek.com

Topics:  coates hire ipswich 400, queensland raceway, v8 supercars




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