Engineer Preview: Sydney Motorsport Park 400

  • 20/08/2014
  • By V8 Supercars
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Clinching ARMOR ALL Pole Position at Queensland Raceway last round meant James Moffat started from p1 for the first time in his V8 Supercars career. With Norton Hornet teammate Michael Caruso also running up the front, the Nissans had a good showing - one the team hopes will continue.

"Given how much we have struggled in qualifying this year it was a very satisfying moment for James and the team," #360 race engineer Nathan McColl (pictured left) told v8supercars.com.au.

"All the guys on the car work just as hard and sometimes harder when the results are poor so to give James a car capable of pole and for him to convert that was a great reward for everyone at Nissan Motorsport. It has given everyone here a boost to work that little bit harder."

While all four Nissans performed well at Sydney Motorsport Park at the sydney.com pre-season test, McColl noted a few variables that factored when comparing the February outing to this weekend's event.

"The pre-season test was in mixed conditions with a great difference in tyre condition over all the cars in the Championship.

"You also had new driver/engineer combinations up and down pit lane that are more established now - so there are no guarantees of a result.

"The only thing we can control is making the car suit James and the conditions on the given day. If we work hard and achieve this we should be in with a chance."

McColl detailed the ins and outs of Sydney Motorsport Park, and what teams will be focusing on at the tricky 3.91km track.

V8supercars.com.au: What are the main characteristics of the circuit?

McColl: "Sydney Motorsport Park has a lot of different characteristics to deal with in one lap. There are fast flowing sections with change of direction as well as slow speed hairpins and the long front straight, so it's a true all-round test of car setup and performance."

How will the weekend's format affect setup and strategy?

"The format is the typical SuperSprint format as seen at many of the events this year, but the key difference is the reduction to two days of V8 Supercars.

"It will be extremely important to roll out the car in Practice One in the window with your setup as you will struggle to recover with the tightly packed Saturday schedule."

What is the tyre allocation and what sort of degradation are you expecting? How will this impact setup and strategy, particularly in the longer Sunday race?

"We are allocated five sets of the control tyre and one set of soft tyres only for use on Sunday.

"Sydney Motorsport Park can be quite brutal on tyres if the car has too much understeer or oversteer for a driver's liking, therefore it is very important to have a well-balanced car that looks after its tyres over a race distance.

"Sunday's race will feature mixed tyres with both the control and sprint tyre available so the car will need to be fast on both compounds and look after the soft tyre as most people will be looking to get onto that tyre as early as possible and make it to the end without falling off the 'cliff'."

What aspects of the circuit are you expecting to suit your car and what do you have to be mindful of?

"Our strength as a team has been performance in the high speed, long radius corners so this should be a circuit that suits our current car but as always it's never that easy, everyone in the category is pushing hard so we will have to be at the top of our game to maintain the form from Sunday at QR."

What are you expecting to be the most important thing to do well this weekend?

"The Championship is very competitive now and you can't just be good at one aspect of the weekend, you have to maximise your performance and push the whole time. For car 360, qualifying has been our weakness, although we have been working hard to improve that aspect and pole at QR is as good as it gets.

"It will be important to have a balanced car in practice to build on for qualifying and then make no mistakes to convert the qualifying position into and race result."

Full name:Nathan McColl
Time with team:Started Jan 2013
Time in V8 Supercars:Since Jan 2011
Drivers engineered:Dean Fiore, Matt Halliday, James Moffat, Taz Douglas
Career highlights:Winton 1-2 2013, Pole QR 2014
Best result at SMP:"Hopefully 2014..."
Origins:Wollongong, NSW; 29/7/1986
Outside of racing:"Try and get out on the mountain bike or play a round of golf when time allows!"

Tickets are still available for this weekend's Sydney Motorsport Park 400.

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