Passing attempts will be plentiful but successful passescould be hard to make stick when V8 Supercars race in the USA for the firsttime this weekend in the Austin 400.
That’s the view of Brad Jones Racing’s Fabian Coulthard, whoalong with Holden Racing Team’s James Courtney cut laps of the new Circuit ofthe Americas last month in the Holden Commodore Car of the Future prototype topromote the event.
Coulthard, who has already won twice this year in hisLockwood Holden Commodore VF, drove about 30 laps of the long version of the Texascircuit, which includes a loop cut from the layout the V8s will conduct four100km races on.
“I liked it, the tyres we were on weren’t too flash, so weprobably didn’t get the full perspective of what it could be like, but it wasan awesome facility,” the 30-year old Kiwi told V8Supercars.com.au. “There is nota bump in sight, it’s smooth, and it’s got a combination of everything.
“Turn one and two would have to be my favourite. It’s uphill– it’s not a little rise, it’s massive. It’s like driving up Barbagallo Racewayin reverse out of the last corner, it’s pretty extreme. It is fast, probablyfifth gear and then into a first gear hairpin. So you have to get it sloweddown and turned and then drive away.”
It’s those wide open corner entries and tight corner exitsthat have Coulthard suspecting there’s going to be plenty of over-optimisticpassing attempts. They might not be successful but they will ensure the actionkeeps flowing.
“I think passing is going to be tough, just the nature ofthe corners. I think you are going to get a few people dive bombing each otherbecause they are so wide on the entry and it tightens up on the exit. So youare going to feel like you can get away with it but really I don’t think youcan.”
Making pit stops mandatory in all four races gets the thumbsup from Coulthard as a way to further spice things up, but he’s not sure aboutracing on the harder Dunlop control tyre.
“Ideally it would be nice if we were running on the softtyre because some of the corners are quite tight. We just need the slightlybetter rotation to improve the passing opportunities.
“The pit stops will help … there will be plenty of action,it won’t by any means be a boring race.”
Coulthard said he was aware there had been some grumbles heand Courtney got an advanced look at the circuit, but dismissed the prospect ofit providing any lasting advantage.
“Yes it’s good to get some laps at a place we have neverbeen to, and yeah I think in the first Practice session it will be anadvantage. But we are all professionals. Look at Jamie (Whincup), he did lapson the new part of Pukekohe before anyone else… and he won one out of the fourraces (at the ITM Auckland 400).
“I think it’s been played up a little bit how much of anadvantage it really is. But I am not complaining that I got to do laps.”
Certainly, Coulthard will be hoping to get his Championshipassault firing again after 27-4-7 finishes at the Chill Perth 360 and droppingback to sixth on points. Up until that event, he had been revelling in the competitivenessthe swap to Car of the Future had delivered.
“Obviously we have equal machinery to everyone else, whichis why all of a sudden it looks like I know what I am doing again,” he said. “Theimportant thing now is to keep it going, not sit on our hands and expect thecar to continue to run up the front. We have to still keep evolving andimproving the car and we’ll worry about the Championship later.”