Sydney night race get a big tick from teams and fans
The inaugural Sydney SuperNight 300 round at Sydney Motorsport Park lived up to its hype, receiving a big tick from all Supercars teams, as well as the tens of thousands of fans who braved the Saturday winter’s evening.
Television viewers were spoilt with some spectacular vision that captured the atmosphere on and off the track.
The organisers are to be congratulated for the effort that went into the event and everyone is now talking about where the next night race will be.
For the teams, it was a big challenge, given the limited experience racing at night, but all teams embraced the concept and a lot of time and effort went into the cars’ preparations to make the drivers comfortable and to make it easy for the pit crews to identify their cars and best manage the pit stops.
In the lead up to the event, a lot of on-site testing of the lighting paid off, with the majority of the circuit well-lit for drivers and for the television cameras to pick up sharp images.
There were some after-race comments from drivers that there was probably room for improvement in lighting of some areas to help pick up braking points and sight corner exits, but overall they were happy with the first effort.
The Wilson Security Racing GRM team spent time in a darkened workshop leading up to the event checking how well the car could be identified on track and also checking the dash lighting. They decided to keep the indigenous livery a little longer and just make minor changes to the livery for the night event.
As a result, they replaced some of the branding with reflective material and highlighted the jack spike point with fluro tape. They also applied fluro tape to the axle stubs to help the pit crew with tyre changes.
Inside the cabin, the dash lights and data panels were able to be dimmed to minimise glare. They also increased the lighting inside and outside the pit garage and mounted a colour mirror ball on the pit boom for a bit of fun, although it didn’t stay long as it was deemed to be a distraction!
Other teams lit their grille surrounds, changed their headlights and even added under-car lighting for special effect.
Friday was mainly a quiet morning and afternoon around the pits for Supercars with no track action scheduled until the sun went down. Drivers had their usual signing and meet-the-fans sessions, while the pit crews worked on the cars and strategies.
There was definitely an air of excitement as darkness fell though, and all cars were quickly out on the circuit for practice one to get a feel for the unfamiliar conditions.
Through the session, most drivers were reporting they were reasonably comfortable in their cars, but some were having trouble picking up the brake markers and exit points from corners.
Team PAYCE/Paynter Dixon drivers, Garth Tander in the #33 Commodore and James Golding in the #34 Commodore put in some early good times, but drifted to midfield in times by the end of the session. James finished 15th, while Garth was two spots down the order in 17th.
Saturday morning’s activity started in ideal weather conditions that remained throughout the day. While the daytime track conditions would be totally different a few hours later, track time was still important for testing some settings.
The second practice session saw little improvement for the ##33 car’s position, but James was on fire and dropped easily into the top ten times with 7th fastest time. This was his best performance in practices this season, topping his two 10th fastest times in Perth and Ipswich.
Qualifying followed in the afternoon using the three stage knock out formula that proved successful at Symmons Plains and Barbagello. It provided an opportunity for teams to strategise around their choice of tyres and whether to conserve some good rubber for the main race.
Garth was not able to get the best from the #33 Commodore and was eliminated from round two after clocking a disappointing 22nd fastest time. James was doing much better and moved on to the second round before he was eliminated and qualified 13th.
Both Team PAYCE/Paynter Dixon drivers were just tenths of a second off the top times, but in what is probably the most competitive category in the world, that is enough to move from the front to the back end.
Congratulations to Scott McLaughlin for putting in another screamer of a lap in the dying minutes to take pole.
Following some colourful pre-race activities, including driver introductions, the race proper got off to a clean start with both GRM cars holding position.
Unfortunately for Garth, his run was marred on lap 5 when he was hit from behind which resulted in considerable damage to the rear diffuser and underside panels.
He was able to continue but the car was not responding as it should and to add insult to injury he took another hit on lap 30 that put paid to any recovery. Under the circumstances, a 20th place finish was reasonable, although disappointing.
James on the other hand was holding his own in experienced company and with some pit stops executed with finesse he found himself in 9th spot. A safety car intervention towards the latter part of the race upset his rhythm and he lost a couple of spots to some hard charging competitors.
James settled for a best season finish 13th and could be pleased that each round shows improvement and confidence. His rookie year was always going to be challenging, but his approach to the season has been one of learning and keeping away from trouble – at least as much as is possible when in the main pack.
The late safety car appearance did lift the race game however, with the top contenders for this year’s title locked in some great battles when racing resumed. Shane van Gisbergen came out on top with the win that took him closer to Scotty McLaughlin, the current leader on points. Jamie Whincup and Scotty filled the other podium spots.
Supercars next appearance is at the brand new Tailem Bend circuit in South Australia on 24-26 August.
Garth Tander 12th (up 1 place)
James Golding 23rd (no change)
Wilson Security Racing GRM 8th (up 1 place)
Porsche Wilson Security Carrera Cup Australia
Some great racing with the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia field on the program, a new lap record for David Wall and a round win for James Moffat in the #38 PAYCE/Wall Racing Porsche being just some of the highlights from the round.
David’s home track knowledge was likely to be an advantage, and his fastest time in the first practice bore that out. James Moffat in the #38 car was close on his heels with second fastest in the same session. Dale Wood recorded 7th fastest time.
Practice two was uneventful with all three cars down a couple of spots but still within the top 10.
Qualifying saw David back on top and in setting fastest time to put him on pole he broke the lap record for the category. James also clocked a time under the old record to be second fastest and Dale recorded 4th fastest.
The race one start did not go well for David, who bogged down and lost several positions to eventually finish 5th. James fared much better and finished runner up, while Dale sadly was a DNF after a last lap tangle with David Wall. Young Dylan O’Keeffe claimed his maiden Carrera Cup win.
Race two was another poor start for David, but he recovered to come home in 4th place. James meanwhile was continuing his good form and bagged another podium 2nd place. Dale battled midfield to come home 11th.
Race three was a combined race for Australian and Asia Pro drivers and David was able to regain his form to come home in 2nd place behind Dylan O’Keeffe with some good passes. Dale finished 6th and James followed him home in 7th.
James’ consistency paid off and his accumulated points gave him his first round win for the season.
The next round for the Porsche Wilson Security Carrera Cup Australia is at Tailem Bend on 24-26 August.
David Wall 3rd (up I place)
James Moffat 4th (up 1 place)
Dale Wood 5th (down 2 places)