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Smarts, not just speed, key to V8 Supercar success
By Ed Jackson • 10/07/2015
Smarts, not just speed, will be the key at this weekend’s V8 Supercars event in Townsville.
Championship leader Mark Winterbottom believes the Reid Park street circuit in north Queensland poses a different challenge each time the category races there.
Winterbottom holds a 95-point lead heading into the two-race event. The Ford star won at the venue in 2012, but says past performance is often no indicator at the 2.86km circuit, which is 30 per cent street circuit and 70 per cent purpose-built racing circuit.
"Townsville’s a strange place,” Winterbottom said.
“In 2013, I got pole by about three-tenths and we were clearly one of the quickest cars, and then last year we had a qualifying average of 18th so year on year it can change so much.
“I’m not dwelling on last year’s results or getting carried away with the year before.”
Winterbottom believes tyre strategy will again play a crucial role in deciding who comes out on top.
Every driver has one set of soft compound tyres and two sets of harder compound tyres for each of the 200km races.
Winterbottom says working out the strategy that will work best during Friday’s practice sessions will be decisive.
“Working out what the scenario is going to be and how you are going to use them is going to be interesting,” he said.
“The smartest guy, the fastest guy, the guy that stays out of trouble and the mechanical reliability is what is going to win.”
Friday’s action will feature three 30-minute practice sessions, with a 200km race each on Saturday and Sunday.
Winterbottom begn the round in Townsville in fine form by going fastest in opening practice.
The Prodrive Racing Australia driver clocked a best lap of one minute and 13.6126 seconds to finish ahead of Holden’s Tim Blanchard (1:13.8457) and James Courtney (1:14.1179).
The session was the first of three half-hour practice runs at the Reid Park circuit on Friday.
Winterbottom held a 95-point championship lead going into the Townsville event. His nearest rival, Holden star Craig Lowndes could only post the 17th-fastest time in the opening practice session.
Defending champion Jamie Whincup, who says he’s in his worst form slump since 2006, was further back in 19th on the timesheets.
Winterbottom’s teammate Chaz Mostert was the fifth-fastest driver, just behind New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen.