The V8 Supercar show makes its return to Queensland Raceway this weekend for round eight of the Championship, the Coates Hire Ipswich 360.
A mainstay on the calendar since 1999, the circuit has played host to a number of different formats in that time, This year the Queensland Raceway event sees the return of Saturday’s 60/60 Super Sprint race, followed by two 100km races on Sunday.
In its first two years of operation, Queensland Raceway hosted two Championship events – a sprint round and a pre-Bathurst, 500-kilometre endurance race, then known as the ‘Queensland 500’, before the event switched back to its traditional home at Melbourne’s Sandown Raceway in 2003.
Queensland Raceway also serves as the home test track for the Queensland based teams – Red Bull Racing Australia, Erebus Motorsport V8, Dick Johnson Racing and Tekno Autosports. The home track advantage has served the Queensland teams well with all but one race in the past four years won by a Queensland-based driver.
Red Bull Racing Australia’s Craig Lowndes has been the form driver of the past two years, winning the last five races in a row, taking his wins at the track to a record eleven, over double that of the second-placed driver Holden Racing Team’s Garth Tander on five wins.
Of the twenty eight driver field, only three have completed every event held at the circuit since it was added to the calendar in 1999, Lowndes, Tander, and Supercheap Auto Racing’s Russell Ingall. Todd Kelly (Jack Daniels Racing) has missed only one event, the sprint round in 2000.
This week after months of doubt the Queensland Government has announced funding to keep the V8 Supercars racing at Queensland Raceway for the next three years. Funding has also been extended for the Gold Coast and Townsville events.
Nicknamed ‘The Paperclip’ for its simplistic six corner design, the circuit was resurfaced at the end of the 2011 season flattening out a lot of the infamous bumps, and in August last year the V8 Supercars had their first run on the new tarmac.
The concise layout of the track makes overtaking opportunities limited, placing a higher emphasis on qualifying well.
Best spots for passing on track are at the Turn three hairpin and the left-hander at Turn four.
The high heat and humidity also make tyre wear a factor, and effectively managing tyres across the course of the weekend will be critical to success.
The Ipswich event has a low occurrence of Safety car intervention, with the Safety car being activated in only sixteen of the thirty-one races. The last event without a Safety car was in 2009, and the last event where the safety car appeared in both races was in 2006.
Location: Willowbank in Ipswich, Queensland
Max Speed: 255 km/h
Average Speed: 162 km/h
Qualifying Lap Record: Craig Lowndes, Holden Commodore VE II, 1.09.2218 (2012)
Race Lap Record: Russell Ingall, Holden Commodore, VE, 1.10.0894 (2012)
Coates Hire Ipswich 360 Format
2 x 75 minute Practice sessions, separated by a 15 minute ‘half time’ break
During the first practice session, the opening 30 minutes is reserved solely for endurance drivers. If an endurance driver is unavailable, the car will remain in pit lane for the first 30 minutes.
1 x 30 minute Practice session
1 x 20 minute Qualifying session
1 x 60/60 Super Sprint Race (made up of two 20-lap halves and 15 minute ‘Half time’)
2 x 15 minute Qualifying sessions
2 x 100km Races
Soft tyres only. 20 in total
2012: Craig Lowndes (x2)
2011: Craig Lowndes (x3)
2010: James Courtney (x2)
2009: Jamie Whincup / Will Davison
2008: Mark Winterbottom (x2) / James Courtney
2007: Garth Tander (x3)
2006: Garth Tander/Mark Skaife / Garth Tander
2005: Craig Lowndes
2004: Marcus Ambrose
2003: Russell Ingall
2002: David Besnard / Simon Wills
2001: Steven Johnson / Paul Radisich
2000: (Endurance) Craig Lowndes / Mark Skaife
2000: (Sprint) Craig Lowndes (x3)
1999: (Endurance) Russell Ingall / Larry Perkins
1999: (Sprint) Garth Tander / Craig Lowndes / Russell Ingall