Fast, flowing track will suit a confident Fabian Coulthard
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Kiwi Supercars driver Fabian Coulthard is licking his lips ahead of this weekend's third round of the championship at Phillip Island, 140km southwest of Melbourne.
The Shell V-Power Ford driver is coming off a win in his last start at Tasmania and is second in the championship behind only fellow New Zealander Shane van Gisbergen.
With history on his side and confidence riding high, Coulthard should take some beating when action starts tomorrow.
"We were good there last year, both Scott Pye and I got a podium there last year," Coulthard said.
"Hopefully we can go there with the package that we have this year and it be a little bit nicer in places and repeat the same performance."
A new format for the event will be in use this year with Supercars opting to go with two 250km races across the weekend.
Phillip Island is traditionally hard on tyres because of the fast and flowing nature of the track but the 2017 Dunlop tyre seems to give better yield than in previous years. How the new tyres degrade will be a challenge for all teams.
"The races are a little bit longer in duration," Coulthard said.
"It is fast, it is flowing. Obviously we have got the new construction tyre so that will be a little bit different for everybody but the more we get to drive on it and use it the more we start to understand it."
Drivers love the 4.45km track and many of them point to this circuit as one of their favourites.
"For me, my favourite track on the calendar is Bathurst but definitely my next best would be Phillip Island," Coulthard said.
"As a driver it is fast and flowing and has elevation changes and things like that. It is interesting, it is fun and it is fast."
Many pundits see the championship as a two-team battle with Coulthard's DJR Team Penske outfit battling defending series champion Shane van Gisbergen's Red Bull Holden Racing Team. In the last meeting at Tasmania a fortnight ago Prodrive Racing's Chaz Mostert appeared to be heading for the chequered flag before a small driving error ended up costing him victory.
Mostert is eager to make up for his mistake and also show that his team can be a contender this season.
"I'm looking forward to giving this event a red hot crack," he said. "They're two long races but I think that could be good for us.
"Adam [engineer Adam de Borre] and the guys gave us an awesome strategy in Tasmania so if we can pull something out of the hat again and have speed similar to what we did I think we can keep improving.
"I've got a few things to focus on myself this weekend to stay consistent but it should be a good weekend."
Most likely to win
He's won here before, the Shell V-Power Ford is arguably the fastest car going around. Should be well-suited to this track.
The veteran has been quiet during the back-end of 2016 and the early part of this season but he's the master of Phillip Island and his driving style clearly works here.
May be long weekend for
The Nissan driver is nursing a sore leg from the big Tasmania crash and he will be piloting the team's spare car this round, which means starting from scratch.