V8s shortchanged in Abu Dhabi

08/08/2018 Posted by admin

The action at Abu Dhabi.I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed we won’t have longer races in Abu Dhabi this week.
Nanjing Night Net

Especially since our teams travelled 12,000km to get to the United Arab Emirates.

The V8 Supercar races here are shorter than usual because we are a support category for Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix.

We understand the need to fit around the F1 schedule, but it’s still disappointing we will have less than 200km of racing in a crucial round at the “business end” of our championship.

This round offers a maximum 300 championship points, the same as the other 14, but they have more racing; from 320km at Hidden Valley near Darwin up to 1000 at Bathurst.

We had 400km of racing on our previous visits to the Yas Marina Circuit in the past two years.

This week there are three 66km, 12-lap races with no compulsory pit stops. We have two races on Saturday, and the other is on Sunday before the F1 event.

It’s good to be join up with F1 because of the extra exposure for our category, but hopefully we can have longer races next time.

Jamie Whincup leads the championship by 218 points, and the title now appears his to lose.

There are a maximum 900 points available in the final three rounds, but I can’t see Whincup being headed unless he or Team Vodafone have major problems.

All Whincup has to do to claim the title is keep finishing races and scoring consistent points. Race wins are not essential for him.

Ford Performance Racing’s Mark Winterbottom is second in the points, but doesn’t win enough — he hasn’t won a race since May.

Craig Lowndes, who is third, would be more of a threat if he wasn’t Whincup’s teammate.

That’s because Lowndes has been affected by the “double-stacking” that happens when teams make pitstops for two cars under safety car conditions.

Teams have one pit boom, and the second driver in the queue inevitably loses track positions while waiting for his teammate to complete tyre changes and refuelling.

My only race win since joining the Holden Racing Team was in Abu Dhabi in 2011, but that was on a 4.5km track layout while this year we will drive on the same 5.5km circuit as the F1 cars.

I drove the full 5.5km track in a Formula 3 open-wheeler in 2011, and it has a longer straight and a tight hairpin than the layout we previously raced on.

The track is wide and smooth, with large long run-offs. It has long-radius corners that tighten up, a feature of F1 circuits designed by Hermann Tilke.

This circuit opened in 2009 and cost $1.5-billion to build. It is located on Yas Island and the complex includes air-conditioned pits, a hotel, business precinct, theme park, residential areas, and even a beach!

I flew out of Australia on Tuesday, a few days after race cars and team equipment were dispatched by aircraft. These long flights can be boring, but I don’t complain because it’s something you have to do if you want to race cars for a living.

It’s no secret the HRT is having a difficult season, with both Garth Tander and I yet to win a race.

But there has been an HRT car in the top five in every race since the Sandown 500. The improved results follow changes to the front of our Commodores which give us more “feel”, and we hope to be competitive this weekend.

Championship Points (after round 12): Jamie Whincup (Holden) 3060; Mark Winterbottom (Ford) 2842; Craig Lowndes (Holden) 2815; Will Davison (Ford) 2503; Shane Van Gisbergen (Ford) 2182; Tim Slade (Ford) 2085; Garth Tander (Holden) 2030; David Reynolds (Ford) 1746; James Courtney (Holden) 1725; Lee Holdsworth (Ford) 1719.

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