Davison's lap of Sydney Motorsport Park

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 19/08/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

A number of firsts have unfolded for Will Davison at Sydney Motorsport Park - his first race win, round win, and earlier this year, first drive of the Erebus. He explained a lap of the circuit he described as a "tricky place" (while teammate Lee Holdsworth talks through one on a team video, above).

"It's a tricky track and challenging place for all V8 Supercars teams and drivers," Davison began.

"You know going there anything's possible! It's very tough to get the car set up with all the long, flowing naturedcorners, with varying track surfaces."

"Turn one is a really spectacular corner inside the car.

"You come in there, we now run a taller diff ratio there - we used to be hard on the rev limiter there in sixth gear, but now we've got a taller ratio, which changes the behaviour of the car quite a bit down into turn one.

"Into fifth gear, and quite an interesting approach, you literally turn in, still full throttle and top gear. The apex is a long way around the corner, but it's a real juggling act getting into turn one... (You're) often fighting to get the front of the car into turn one, so very easy to get sucked into pushing too hard to carry very high entry speed.

"If you've got too much understeer in the middle there it really affects your run into turn two, which is important for lap time, andfor passing in the race.A good run off turn one really enables you to try and pass people into turn two - it's probably one of the best spots to pass on the whole circuit.

"Turn one is certainly one of those corners that when you get it right, it's incredibly rewarding... it's one of those corners that really challenges you and is really satisfying when you know your car is working well - you can really hang it on the line there and get rewarded.

"The run down to turn two - over the past three years varying levels of new surface have been put down. Turn two and three is very old surface, effectively about halfway through the braking zone it goes to the new surface, so the grip has much improved now through turn two and three. It's a big double apex corner, there's many lines through there, but effectively very, very late braking - a huge trail brake corner as you attack into turn two, so you certainly can get rewarded from carrying a lot of speed through there and then it really tightens up on itself on the exit.

"As I said, there's many lines you can use there - qualifying and race lines are often quite different, depending on if you're in a battle with a pack of cars or setting up someone for a pass.

"There's certainly different lines through the middle of turn two which change throughout the race depending on whether you're attacking or descending, or in qualifying mode. Depending on your car setup as well, there's certainly a couple of different ways you can extract lap time out of that corner.

"Turn three is a long right hander - again, basically turn two out to turn three, a shift to third gear, little lift of the throttle, some people short shift to fourth gear in race mode to really look after the rear tyre. It basically goes to the old surface three quarters of the way through the corner - the car instantly erupts into wheelspin, as I said it really hurts the rear tyres, so you're certainly mindful of that in the race.

"You're right up on the crest of the hill and as you head down the hill it can get pretty lively in the rear of the car, as you shift into fourth gear. It's an interesting track because you're asking different things fro the car and on different surfaces. It's always a huge compromise with setup.

"Turn three is the one o those long, laeral corners -you know when your car is working well there. If you start hurting there in the race, you really feel it if you don't have the grip in the rear of the car.

"On the other hand, if the car's really working well, you know with these long-type corners when you're going to be competitive.

"You run down the hill, which is always a pretty exciting part of the track...

"Turn four. Again it's one of those corners where you want to trail brake. You need a car that's nice and stable braking into there - But if you make it too stable, the car will have too much understeer, particularly with the old surface. It's very easy for the car to understeer too much and particularly understeer out wide. It leads into another left hander after, so if you've got too much understeer at such a long corner, you pick up low throttle and if the car's not handling that transition well, it will snap to an oversteer. That really hurts the rear tyres, hurts your momentum and really compromises your track position...

"We go through turn five again and you've got third gear, you've really got to nurse the car, wait for the front at turn five and try and get maximum exit out of there. We're seeing the road much wider on the exit now, you see all the drivers using all the road and more on the exit - you run four wheels out on the AstroTurf on the exit of turn five just trying to open the steering up, stop the car from sliding in the rear and keep the corner speed up as much as possible.

"Down to turn six - certainly another passing opportunity, a corner that's been modified a couple of years ago. It's literally a straight run down to try and improve the passing opportunityinto six, and basically it goes to a brand new surface literally as you hit the brakes.

"It goes downhill - downhill braking, so it's really easy to lock rear wheels into here, which makes passing quite tricky as well because you do brake very late. It's very high grip through this corner, so second or third gear, depending on your car setup. Third gear looks after the tyres more, but it's very doughy on the uphill exit, second gear probably not as nice mid-corner speed but you get a bit of a punch off the corner on the other side. It's a corner that is quite high grip; again it's a compromise on setup, getting your car to handle well - the old grip versus the new tarmac has a big difference.

"You want to get a good run here up to Corporate Hill. I love the run up to Corporate Hill, it's a completely blind approach...

"The car gets very light in the rear up over the crest so you're often always trying to stabilise the car with setup adjustments and then trying to pick up the throttle as early as you can to stabilise the rear of the car. Then the road drops away on the exit as you start coming downhill into the hairpin ... Very tricky to pass here because the natural line is to turn from the inside anyway, because you drift right out over Corporate Hill and then effectively brake in the mid-track. So effectively everyone runs the inside line into there.Some people you'll see sneak up on the entry to mid-corner because some people do a much later apex.

"Depending on your car setup you either flow in on the approach or try and get the car to get traction on the exit, which is tricky out there on the very old surface at the hairpin. So very hard to get front grip, to get traction - again you'll see cars run out on the AstroTurf on the exit. New tarmac there, so everyone's trying to get every little bit of traction they can. Because it's a downhill approach into the hairpin it's very easy to lock a front wheel as well. So you'vereally got to nurse the car into the hairpin to try and get more front grip. The more front grip you get, the better the traction as well ... real finicky little section there.

"In the last complex, very technical part of the circuit, very fast approach into the third last corner - certainly you're braking and downshifting from fifth down to third gear through the last two corners, as you're hugging the kerb on the right. So if you carry too much throttle in it can really upset the rear of the car and you really compromise your line into the second last corner. So you really need a car that, as you're braking, holds front grip through the right hander, nice and stable so you have the maximum line in the last two corners.

"You can use a lot of kerb across the second last corner but there's a big drop off on a chunk of bitumen which can very easily damage your rim and therefore cause punctures.

"Third gear for the last two corners - it's nearly one sequence of corners but there's a little straight section in between the two. Again the last corner is new tarmac now and actually goes uphill, quite blind - the exit of the corner's very blind, you're completely committed to full throttle before you can actually see the exit of the road.

"There's two different lines there again. You can actually carry a lot of speed on the entry but your exit speed won't be as good, or you can set yourself up for a big exit and big exit speed down the start finish straight. Again, depending on setup, it's quite an interesting corner - potentially passing opportunities here as well. A couple of sneaky ways to pass into the last corner if you're brave.

Again, a long, loaded lateral corner that asks a lot of the rear of the car, and if you've got good lateral traction you really get rewarded here. You often see drivers running out of road on the exit because you're committing to full throttle before you can see the exit. There's a lot of lap time if you get it right but it's very easy to then run out of road on the exit and then damage tyres or parts of your car because it's quite an aggressive drop off outside the track."

The V8 Supercars will be at Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend - tickets are available now. Be there for the ultimate fan experience on Sunday, the True Colour Track Walk, where fans can get up close and personal with the cars.

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