2017 Castrol Gold Coast 600 – Preview
After the drama-filled Bathurst 1000, all teams will likely be looking forward to a less intense round this coming weekend. The Gold Coast 600 is a favourite with drivers, who find the Surfers Paradise street circuit challenging with its unforgiving high curbs and concrete walls, but at the same time rewarding when you get it right.
Weatherwise, the forecast is for mid 20s temperatures and showers on Saturday and possibly Sunday, which would make things interesting.
The Supercars drivers championship is still up for grabs, with three rounds to go and several drivers in contention. Those near the top of the leaderboard are more likely to be inclined to go for points and minimise risks. For those who are not championship contenders, there is less pressure on the teams. The remaining rounds afford them an opportunity to go a little harder and take more risks in the closing stages of the season.
A couple of teams are still in the running for the Pirtek Enduro Cup, but unfortunately GRM is not in contention, with the Tander/Golding pairing doing the best in seventh place on points.
Flying the flag for Team PAYCE in the Gold Coast 600 will be Garth Tander and James Golding in the #33 Holden Commodore and in the #34 Holden Commodore, James Moffat and Richard Muscat. The combinations proved to be good decision by Garry as shown by their performances at Sandown and Bathurst before Lady Luck deserted them.
Supporting the Supercars round and the last of the endurance races for the Pirtek Enduro Cup will be the final round in the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship, currently led by Team PAYCE driver, David Wall in the #38 PAYCE/Wilson Security Porsche 911 GT3. The Mini Enduro series for the category will also be decided. David is currently third on points.
A highlight of the meeting will be the first appearance on track together of the PAYCE/Wilson Security supported Super5000 open wheeler to be driven by Leanne Tander, and Chris Lambden’s Formula Thunder 5000 to be driven by Tim Macrow. Both V8-engined cars will do a number of demonstration laps over the course of the meeting as the joint project continues to be evaluated.
Last year, the Wilson Security Racing GRM team were running the Volvos and they came away with two podiums over the two races after getting both cars into the Top Ten Shootout.
This year, as has been the case all season long, the GRM team arrives at a circuit with little past data to use as a reference for the two Holden Commodores. They have the added disadvantage of adapting the #44 Holden Commodore normally driven by Richard Muscat in the Super2 series to Supercars specification following the need to replace the extensively damaged #34 Commodore, which Moff crashed at Bathurst.
Bathurst was tough on the GRM team, who saw potential top placings by both cars quickly evaporate as the cars crashed out in the closing stages of the Great Race.
On a positive note, both cars exhibited strong race pace throughout the day in very difficult conditions. The strategies came together and the pit stops were executed with vigour and precision. No doubt the team has put the dramas behind them as they always do and will bounce back this weekend with no effort spared to put on their best show.
Garry and the GRM team will present two immaculately prepared cars for the coming round as they tackle probably the toughest street circuit of the championship. Based on their performances at Bathurst, we can expect a strong showing from all four drivers and the pit crew. A good result here will help erase the disappointment of Bathurst and consolidate their positions in the championship.
The Supercars hit the track late Friday morning for the first of three 30 minute practice sessions for the day, one of which is for co-drivers only. Saturday morning they are back on the circuit for a 20 minute qualifying session for race one over 102 laps (300 kilometres) in the afternoon.
Sunday morning they have a 20 minute qualifying session to determine the Top Ten Shootout line-up and set grid positions from 11 to the rear for race two, again over 102 laps or 300 kilometres.
Porsche Carrera Cup Australia
This year’s Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship is proving to be the best ever in its 13 year history. Seven drivers have recorded wins across the 20 races run to date and no one driver has dominated the highly competitive series. Several more cars and drivers have returned for this weekend’s round, making the 19 car Outright and Challenge field even more competitive than usual.
Team PAYCE member, David Wall, is in the box seat to win his first championship in the series. David enjoys a 62 points lead over his nearest rival, Andre Heimgartner with Alex Davison 30 points further back. All three were podium finishers at Bathurst, so we should expect a great showdown over the three races on the streets of Surfers Paradise.
There are 180 points on offer for the winners of the three races and if David’s recent performances are any guide, he must go into this final round as championship favourite.
He is yet to finish outside the top six in any race this season and has amassed 12 podiums, including four round wins, this season.
David will be doing double duty again this weekend, with drives in both the Carrera Cup and Supercars. He seems to revel in the challenge and his results indicate he has no trouble handling the extra pressure.
This weekend also marks the final round of the Porsche Carrera Cup mini enduro series, run in tandem with the Supercars endurance races.
Alex Davison leads that series with David Wall a close third. The second race will be double the distance of the other two on the weekend program and will decide who takes home the title of winner of the inaugural Enduro Cup.
The bolstered field takes to the track on Friday morning for a 30 minute practice session, followed by a second 30 minute session around midday. The day then wraps up with a 20 minute qualifying session to set the grid for race one on Saturday.
The Enduro Cup decider race over 25 laps opens the race program on Sunday and the drivers and cars return to the track mid-afternoon for a 12 lap curtain-raiser to the Supercars feature race.
Contact: Bill Smith 0412 446 058