Drivers' Quoteboard: SKYCITY Triple Crown preview

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 19/06/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

Mark Winterbottom, Ford Pepsi Max Crew, p1 (Championship):

"It is good to go to Darwin as we've had a big break and we have regrouped and had a look and what we've done well and what we haven't. If we could pick a round to give us extra confidence it would be Darwin as we've always performed well there. It is one of our favourites and our strength has been tyre life so the tyre allocation, while not great, it should suit us so I am keen to get going. Hopefully we can maintain our lead and start the next phase of the championship as good as we did the first one."

Craig Lowndes, Red Bull Racing Australia, p2:

"Obviously we're looking forward to it after the long break and it's actually the first round this year with the dual combination tyre so it's going to be very important to get the car setup right.

"I think definitely our qualifying form is better this season, so we're looking forward to trying to secure Triple Eight's first pole at Hidden Valley.

"It's a track I enjoy a lot and have done well at in the past, but qualifying is very important because of the long straights. There are some good passing opportunities, but tyre life is very critical and the temperature is also obviously a big factor. The heat of Darwin is very draining on the drivers."

Fabian Coulthard, Lockwood Racing, p3:

"It'll be interesting to see how we go in Darwin.

"We tested a few things at Winton and I'd say we've definitely learnt some things. Hopefully we've made a couple of inroads and we get to see how much in Darwin and quantify them and see how we stack up."

Jamie Whincup, Red Bull Racing Australia, p4:

"We had a break and I took a week off and went on holidays, so I feel like I've recharged the batteries mid-year.

"I think overall we had a great test day. I know everyone's had a test day, but I feel like we really needed it. We had a good productive day and I'm confident the engineers have filtered through the good data we got and it'll make us faster in Darwin.

"Time will tell whether we've maximised our test day, but I've got full confidence they will have. I'm feeling good as well, so I'm looking forward to heading up into the sunshine and trying to improve our performance from the last three rounds."

James Courtney, Holden Racing Team, p5:

"I'm really excited about heading to the Top End.

"I had some great results at Hidden Valley last year, and with a good test behind us we should be able to do even better this year.

"If we can get straight on the pace, there's no reason why I can't hunt down our competition and sink my teeth into another juicy win."

Scott McLaughlin, Valvoline Racing GRM, p7:

"The [recent] test was really good as it was our first real run outside a race weekend and we made solid progress with the car. Obviously a lot of the other teams have tested as well, but hopefully it all comes together for us this weekend.

"I am really looking forward to see what we have got this weekend. I've been training pretty hard and done a lot of altitude training, I'm feeling the fittest I've ever been. My goal is to continue in the top and keep scoring solid points."

Chaz Mostert, Ford Pepsi Max Crew, p8:

"Darwin is pretty exciting. The circuit is unique and I love the long front straight as you can slipstream a lot, which is a heap of fun. The rest of the track flows very well and provides a lot of action. I didn't have the best run there last year but we are in a different position this year. The car is strong and fast and we look forward to punching up the front with Frosty. The people are nice and the weather is too - Darwin is just awesome."

David Reynolds, The Bottle-O Racing, p9:

"I love Darwin - the track, the city and my girlfriend is from there! Last year we had an incredibly fast car and two poles and a podium were great, though this year it is a totally different car. Our program this year has been one of revolution, not evolution, so after a successful test day we feel we should be better. The test has solved some problems and should bring us some more speed, but we'll find out just how much when we get there."

Jason Bright, Team BOC, p10:

"I definitely think we got some good things out of the test.

"It's all about gathering knowledge and knowing the car better so when you're at a race meeting and you need to make a change to the car you've got different tools in your toolbox to be able to do that.

"We're still recovering from the horrible round at Adelaide (when the car was tipped into a rollover) and in Tassie and playing catch up ever since.

"We've definitely got the equipment to do it so we just need to keep getting some clear runs and I'm sure it'll keep working for us.

"I really enjoy heading up (to Darwin) at this time of year, the weather is amazing and everyone really embraces the event. It's awesome."

Lee Holdsworth, Erebus Motorsport V8, p11:

"Any time you can get laps in the car is a big advantage given we're only allowed to have four test days a year.

"I spent a lot of time in the car and didn't use my cool suit or dry ice [at this month's test] so I tried to accustom myself to the conditions we are going to experience in Darwin.

"We learnt a lot of valuable things about the car and I feel that makes us a lot more prepared than we were heading into previous rounds.

"This is our biggest break of the year so to have a test day in between was a huge benefit for me as a driver to get some more laps behind the wheel and not to lose the edge...

"Our tyre life has generally been one of our strengths this year, so I'm hoping we can carry that through into Darwin.

"Sometimes it doesn't even matter how far back you qualify in the longer races, if you've got a tyre that hangs on, it's not hard to pass.

"For the most part, we've shown a real strength in that area this year so that could be a key factor.''

Will Davison, Erebus Motorsport V8, p12:

"It's a circuit where you get rewarded for having a good chassis balance and good tyre life.

"If we can nail that, then I think there's good potential for weekend.

"It's the first time we've had hard and soft tyres so Sunday's longer race is going to be the biggest challenge for the weekend.

"Strategy is going to play a huge part in getting a result given the tyre degradation and the heat.''

Michael Caruso, Norton Hornets, p13:

Click here for Caruso's preview, and to see his World Cup inspired helmet design.

James Moffat, Norton Hornets, p14:

"I can't wait to get back behind the wheel of the #360 Norton Nissan. It has been over a month since we raced but it feels like even longer.

"We'd definitely like to be racing more consistently during the year. I'd race every weekend if I could! With the way the calendar works, that is not possible, but it's a shame there's such big gaps at this time of year.

"We had a test two weeks ago, so that has kept us sharp. Personally, we felt it wasn't a great test for my car, but we tried a lot of things so we're hoping that we can use that to our advantage.

"And I love heading to Darwin. The weather is always great at this time of year and it's nice to get away from Melbourne's winter for a week!"

Garth Tander, Holden Racing Team, p15:

"We talked a lot about tyres in Perth, and it's the same for Darwin.

"It's a real trade-off there. The track surface is abrasive meaning plenty of tyre wear, but it's so hot that the grip levels are low.

"So you've got to be on top of your tyres from the start to get the most out of the tyre over one lap in qualifying, and then keep it in the zone for the race."

Tim Slade, Supercheap Auto Racing, p16:

"We've made some improvements with the package that are definitely going to help us in Darwin.

"And there's more developments in the pipeline as well, so there's no reason we can't continue our move up the grid...

"The track surface is one of the key factors. It's very abrasive, so you want to make sure you treat the tyres right.

"It's also got a long front straight, so you can't afford to give away any speed in a straight line...

"Darwin is one of my favourite races, and I'm pretty sure it's the same for just about everyone in the pit lane as well."

Click here for more from Slade.

Rick Kelly, Jack Daniel's Racing, p18:

Click here for preview from Rick and Todd (p24).

Scott Pye, Wilson Security Racing, p19:

"I am really looking forward to the weekend in Darwin. It is a fantastic track and always delivers exciting racing. Last year was very tough for me personally and the results did not come, but with the way the DJR cars are going there is no reason why we can't be challenging the top guys.

"The tyres will be a big factor and with the longer Sunday race and Safety Cars, there is often cars battling on very different strategies. We have seen this year after year with the two Dunlop tyre compounds.

"My preparation is the same for every event and I have a very good fitness program regardless if it is in Tassie or Darwin, but it is always very hot up here in these cars.

"The crew at DJR and I have been working hard on trying to make the car better over one lap so this will be a key factor in three qualifying sessions for sure."

David Wall, Wilson Security Racing, p20:

"Tyres will be the focus for everyone. You get high tyre degradation here and with a mix of Dunlop hard and soft compounds our strategy will be very important. This is one place you have to qualify well at. Although there are some passing opportunities, you can get caught up in long lines of cars here so to be as close to the front will be really important.

"The heat is a factor in Darwin, but I do a lot of cardio work so I'm sure we will be fine. The DJR boys have also made the car a bit more comfortable for me with some rearranging of the seat and pedal box in our new Wilson Security Falcon."

Jack Perkins, Team JELD-WEN, p21:

"I am looking forward to getting up to Darwin with Team JELD-WEN. It will certainly be good to escape the Melbourne winter but after our test day we have some positive developments to run and we are looking forward to getting some stronger results for everyone in our program. At the risk of sounding controversial, we have the exact same race format as Perth, on a similarly-high degradation circuit, yet have three less sets of tyres. I'm unsure why that happened but that will certainly spice up the racing. Hopefully we can manage it as best as possible and get a strong result for all four FPR cars."

Nick Percat, HHA Racing, p22:

"I really enjoyed racing at Hidden Valley in the junior categories and have had a bit of success there. It's going to be my first hit-out in a V8 Supercar and I am looking forward to the challenge.

"The event is awesome and the huge crowds we get in Darwin are always great and they love their V8s. The whole city gets behind it, so it's a great event to go to.

"I think the track layout suits my driving style and we rocked up at Symmons Plains earlier this year, (first time in a V8 Supercar) and went well and then went to Pukekohe for the first time and went well, so I am pretty confident we can go to Hidden Valley and have a pretty good hit out."

Dale Wood, Team ADVAM/GB Gal, p23:

"The [recent] test was definitely beneficial. You get to try things that you don't normally get to try with such restrictive testing on Fridays before a race weekend. We managed to try things we've been wanting to try all year. It also allowed me to familiarise myself more and more with the car.

"I don't have a lot of experience at Hidden Valley but I've done enough. I've been doing a fair bit on the simulator so it should be alright.

"There've been some pretty big positives coming out of every round so far so for sure I have confidence coming into the round. I think we have a better understanding of the car and I'm feeling more and more comfortable in the environment all the time. That definitely inspires confidence."

Robert Dahlgren, Valvoline Racing GRM, p25:

"We have a challenging and exciting race weekend ahead of us. The long race on Sunday especially with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius will be tough. The circuit character seems to be a bit more like what I am used to. My aim for the weekend is to run in the top ten."

Tickets are still available for this weekend's SKYCITY Triple Crown at Hidden Valley in Darwin.

Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Newsletter