Engineer Preview: Sydney NRMA 500

  • 04/12/2014
  • By V8 Supercars
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Todd Kelly's engineer Perry Kapper is hoping to see four Nissans in the top 15 this weekend.

While the mid-point of the season was difficult for Kelly and his crew, updates to the Altimas proved fruitful.

"It was a bit of a battle, until we got some updates and really get forging ahead with the car," Kapper told v8supercars.com.au.

"The thing we can take away from this year is the turnaround in performance to do with the upgrades and the better understanding of the car, from both the drivers and the engineer's point of view.

"Hopefully that will carry on until next year, and we can start 2015 off on the right foot ... if we are consistently inside the top15 with all four cars [this weekend], it would be good."

Kapper explained the ins and outs of the Homebush street circuit ahead of this weekend's Sydney NRMA 500.

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

Kapper: "Obviously the circuit has a lot of 90-degree corners, there's more or less only one high speed corner, so the critical thing car setup wise is braking performance. Setup is driven around having the most stable car possible under breaks, and being able to be brake as deep and as late as possible to maximise that side of the circuit.

"Then obviously the thing that goes with that, when having stop-start corners is the need to have good drive off the corner. The mid-corner balance is less of a drama here because there are no long radius corners, so having a car that brakes well, and has good drive is the most important thing.

"Flowing on from that there are a number of long braking zones that lead into chicanes, so being able to ride the kerbs well without unsettling the car, and handling the big flights over these kerbs is critical. So control in the damping on landing is important."

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

"Format-wise, it's exactly the same as the Clipsal 500. The two qualifying sessions on Saturday are relatively short, and you don't have a lot of practice time. So it will again make any changes to setup pretty critical.

"We've got three practice sessions on Friday, so it's nice to have an extra one on Saturday morning, which will allow us to solely focus on qualifying setup.

"The races are short on the Saturday (125km each), but they do have a mandatory pit stop for at least two tyres, and you will see probably the majority of the field putting a small amount of fuel in at the same time. You will probably see people doing rears, or right hand side tyres because of the format of the races, and the requirement to stop on Saturday, and the number of tyres we have been allocated.

"It's going to be a bit of a juggling act to make it through the weekend and be in a good position for Sunday's main race."

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

"We're hoping that the developments we've had over the year will be an advantage for us. Since we were there last year, the cars have changed considerably, and we've had some fairly significant upgrades engine wise. We're hoping the cars will be more competitive from an acceleration point of view, so that should help us.

"Setup wise with the characteristics of our car, we've traditionally been strong at high-speed circuits, so that highlights that the balance of our cars is quite good. How we achieve that however could potentially cause a few issues with the kerbs, so it's a case of managing that, and getting a handle on the setup. A lot of that comes down to the driver, and how they get the most out of the car."

Full name:Perry Kapper
Time with team:Two years
Time in V8 Supercars:Nine years
Drivers engineered:Todd Kelly, Michael Patrizi and James Moffat
Career highlights:Best placed driver finish was fourth, twice with James Moffat, a couple of fifths with Michael Patrizi, and a fifth with Todd Kelly at the most recent round at Phillip Island.
Best result at Homebush:Hopefully this weekend!
Origins:Gold Coast; March 1, 1983
Outside of racing:Thinking about racing! I really don't do much outside of racing.

Tickets are still available for the weekend's grand finale, the Sydney NRMA 500.

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