Mostert: Qualifying the key in Melbourne

  • 20/03/2018
  • By Mitchell Adam
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Tickford Racing’s Chaz Mostert believes the rapid-fire qualifying format for this weekend’s Coates Hire Supercars Melbourne 400 will shape “half” of each drivers’ race results.

Supercars’ first points-paying event at Albert Park as part of the Australian Grand Prix comes with a bespoke, four-race format with the Larry Perkins Trophy on the line.

Coates Hire Supercars Melbourne 400 | Tickets | Info

The grid for each race will be set in 10-minute ARMOR ALL Qualifying sessions, with two apiece on Thursday and Friday afternoons split by just 10 minutes.

They will follow a pair of 30-minute practice sessions on Thursday, and Mostert believes grid positions will heavily-influence race results.

That is despite the two longer, 125km races featuring mandatory pitstops, and the prospect of tyre degradation with Supercars’ super-soft compound and an abrasive track surface.

“The weekend format is completely different to probably anywhere else we go,” Mostert said.

“There’s short races, there’s long races, but in saying that every single race is worth 75 points. So every race is equally important.

“It’s going to be crucial to have one-lap speed [in qualifying]. I believe qualifying is where you’re going to get half of your result from in the race.

“Now being a championship round, it means it’s just as important as any other round we go to.

“We’ve had some up-and-down results over the years, last year we got third [for the event], which was fantastic.

“[With] the direction we’re going with the car this year, I’m really excited to go there and give it a crack.”

Mostert, a race winner at Albert Park 12 months ago, is Tickford Racing’s lead driver in the 2018 standings in fourth after the Adelaide 500 season opener.

5-Winterbottom-EV01-18-11528

Mark Winterbottom looked set for the early intra-team honours, before being handed a controversial kerb-strike penalty in the Sunday race.

A seven-time Albert Park race winner, including a clean sweep in 2015, Winterbottom agreed with Mostert’s assessment that having speed early would shape drivers’ weekends.

“In the past we’ve used the Grand Prix as sort of a test where we tried out some different or new things, but now that it counts for points we have to take a completely different approach,” he said.

“I expect it will be a challenging weekend, whoever rolls off the truck fast will be in the best position, but having the same car for three years there we should have a good idea where we can find speed and hopefully that will play to our advantage.

“We swept the weekend three years ago but haven’t won since, so hopefully we can get back to the front this weekend.”

Winterbottom heads to Albert Park eighth in the points, one spot ahead of Cameron Waters, while rookie Richie Stanaway is 25th.

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