DJRTP: The Bend levels the playing field

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 21/08/2018
  • By Mitchell Adam

Supercars teams venturing to a new circuit in The Bend "levels the playing field" this weekend, Shell V-Power Racing managing director Ryan Story believes.

The South Australian facility is the first permanent circuit opened in the country since Queensland Raceway in 1999, with practice for the OTR SuperSprint commencing on Friday.

Four drivers raced at Tailem Bend in April, largely in GT machinery, while a separate group attended a support category test including V8 Touring Cars last week.

A 4.9km layout becomes the second new track visited by Supercars in nine months, following the addition of the Newcastle street circuit last November.

Story, whose driver Scott McLaughlin leads the championship by 89 points over Red Bull HRT's Shane van Gisbergen, believes it creates an "interesting" proposition.

"It levels the playing field, for sure and presents its own challenges," he said.

"It's no different to Newcastle last year, you do the best you can to prepare.

"I know a lot of other guys up and down pitlane have had opportunities to drive other cars there, that'll help in terms of acclimatising to a new track.

"But you get your head around it after a couple of sessions in these things, as it is, these guys are all professionals.

"There's elements of the track that are similar to [Sydney Motorsport Park] and Phillip Island; it's going to be a fast track with a couple of really challenging corners in the back half."

Van Gisbergen was among the competitors in April's Australian GT races, while his Supercars team-mate Jamie Whincup has described The Bend as "ultra-technical".

McLaughlin and Whincup took a victory apiece, but the latter the title, in Newcastle last year.

Story feels his outfit's new-for-2018, in-house simulator program will help McLaughlin, Fabian Coulthard and their engineers prepare.

"It's all about doing the best you can to familiarise the drivers with the track," he added of using the Simworx unit.

"We try and use it as a tool, particularly from the engineering point of view, to understand driver feedback better and ensure we've got some commonality in terms of the feedback to describe what the car's doing.

"We effectively make changes to the car specifically to see if the driver can feel them, even in the simulator, and describe and talk about them in the same way.

"That's a tool we'll continue to use and improve, we're very fortunate to have Simworx on board that we can do that."

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