Three new factors and the most constant issue in V8Supercars racing means the fierce competition seen so far in 2013 is likely tocontinue at Barbagallo Raceway this weekend in the Chill Perth 360.
That’s the view of the form man in the Championship, JasonBright, who claimed the Jason Richards Memorial Trophy at Pukekohe in NewZealand three weeks ago and now heads to the short West Australian circuitwhere he broke through for Brad Jones Racing’s first championship race win in2011.
Bright’s four criteria are:
Thecut in tyre allocations driven by cost containment that have made eachqualifying session a one-shot deal and mixed up grids.
Thenew Car of the Future technical regulations, which is reshaping the competitiveorder of teams.
Themove to more sprint races, which forces drivers to pass on the trackrather than wait for pit stops.
Tyrelife – the issue every V8 Supercars driver, engineer and team grappleswith constantly.
“On any given weekend Ithink if we have at least two of those factors it will make for good racing,”Bright told v8supercars.com.au.
Apply that criteria to theChill Perth 360 and the promising news is all four of them have relevance,especially as the event is being conducted on soft tyres on a surface renownedfor tyre degradation.
“Being on the soft tyre youwill probably only get one lap per qualifying session out of a set of tyres,” theBOC Holden Commodore VF driver predicted. “You might have a tyre or two tothrow at it but you’re not going to have a lot of laps to get it right, everyteam will be trying to save tyres because if you can go into the races withgreens it’s going to be an advantage.”
Bright approves of cut-throatqualifying, even though it imperilled his chances in New Zealand when hequalified only 12th for race three.
“I think it is what weneed,” the 40-year old said. “We need the grid mixed up a bit, we need the hardluck stories here and there, we need Frosty going into his teammate’s garageand abusing the hell out of him. That’s what makes those sessions so exciting.”
The tyre wear issue will notbe a huge issue in Saturday’s 60/60 Super Sprint, but will come intosignificant play in Sunday’s two 100km sprint races, which may still includepit stops even though they are not mandatory.
“I think some guys won’t beable to look after their tyres as much as other guys,” Bright predicted. “Ithink it makes for good racing when you have guys struggling on very worn outtyres and you have other guys hunting them down.”
It was soft tyre life thatwas a key factor in Bright securing his 2011 win for BJR at Barbagallo. It wasan incredible weekend for the team, as former team driver Karl Reindler’sCommodore was destroyed in a start-line fireball and another former teammate,Jason Bargwanna, claimed a podium finish.
“It was a pretty bittersweetweekend for BJR with one car totally wrecked and their first round win. Thatsort of thing doesn’t happen every day to a team,” Bright reflected. “I’m notsure they would take that sort of hit every weekend to get their first roundwin, but the win was more important to them than some of the other stuff thatwent on that weekend.”
While Bright also won a raceat Winton for BJR in 2011, it wasn’t until the arrival of CotF in 2013 that theteam gained true consistent competitiveness. He is confident he and teammateFabian Coulthard (Lockwood Racing Commodore) – who are the only multiple racewinners so far this year – will be in the lead group vying for victory.
“One of the things I amhappy about is the cars work at each of the circuits we have been to and onsoft or hard tyres,” said Bright. “So Perth is another different surface againand definitely the worst surface we have been to as far as grip. But I will behappy if we are walking out of there with some trophies and good pace like wehave had at the last few races.”
Bright is also confident ofhis performance potential in Perth because it suits his style, as proved by hisfour wins at the circuit over the years for three different teams – BJR, HRTand the now defunct PWR Racing.
“I wouldn’t say it’s myfavourite circuit but it’s been good to me. I think it brings out a couple ofthe strengths that I think I end up with in my car, which is a really goodbraking car and a stable car,” he explained. “Hopefully this year we can notcha win up there for Car of the Future with BJR.”
Despite their pace,Coulthard and Bright sit only fifth and sixth in the championship on 552 and539 points respectively after suffering issues early in the season. FPR’s WillDavison is the leader on 697 points from Jamie Whincup (666), his Red BullRacing teammate Craig Lowndes (591) and HRT’s Garth Tander (553).