Engineer Preview: NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 14/05/2015
  • By V8 Supercars

On the back of Erebus' second win, the team returns to the site of its first this weekend.

Last year, Lee Holdsworth steered his E63 to finish firstand gave Erebus a run on the board. Last event, Will Davison earned his first victory with the team - a huge boost to the Erebus squad, and a sign of progress.

For Davison's race engineer Luke Mason, it was a home victory - and while his expectations are in check for this weekend, he believes more top 10 finishes could be on the cards for the developing team.

"Our momentum is building and our biggest focus since our engine package upgrades has been maintaining our consistency," Mason told

"The category as a whole as moved forward since last year and going back there now we do a lot of things differently both with car setup and how we operate...

"A boring weekend cemented somewhere in the top 10 will tick that box. That said we want to be greedy. We've tasted a win. We're hungry!"

Mason even had his 89-year old grandpa at the track at the last event for the team's thrilling victory and his first win engineering Davison.

"Personally, it [the win] was a big relief. We work extremely hard at what we do, it's a competitive environment this pit lane, not just between the drivers but between all the crews. To know that during that race, our group was better than everyone else is a huge confidence boost going forwards."

Mason explained this weekend's racing at the NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint.

The circuit

The 3km track is a tight and twisty circuit, and one that relies on more than just speed from the V8 Supercars.

"The top speed is the slowest of the year - in fact we run the shortest drop gear ratio of the year here and we still don't even use sixth gear," Mason explained.

"Less emphasis is placed on braking performance as there are no long straights leading into big braking zones."

The cars

"The races require a slightly different approach and a well-balanced car is a must," Mason explains.

"Being so tight, you are always chasing front grip and mid-corner rotation. You tend to bias the car for more turn in qualifying as a 'green' rear tyre can cop the extra load for a couple of qualifying laps and the last thing you want is a car with too much push."

The racing will again be about tyre degradation - so finding a setup that is gentle on its tyres will go a long way.


Teams will need to beware of the changing conditions at the Winton circuit. Mason says the biggest challenge will be keeping up with the track and not going down the wrong path with setup changes.

Two hours on Friday should see teams working on qualifying and race setups.

"Initial runs will see teams 'dial' in the base setup of their cars, with the opportunity to do a soft tyre degradation run at some point."

Fans at home should look for teams that make real progress and improve across the course of the day, and if teams are doing soft tyre runs.

The extra set of green hard tyres

With Friday time now incorporating 'testing' time for the teams, testing on better tyres means more relevant data and ultimately a greater understanding of the V8 Supercars.

"It will make it easier to gauge where cars are leading into Saturday's running as most teams will do a qualifying simulation at some point in practice two," Mason said.

"It also means the tyres can be re-used at subsequent events in practice sessions which dramatically improves the quality of our 'pre-marked' practice tyres we take to the track."

Earlier this week the V8 Supercars Commission allocated an additional set of tyres for Friday, which Mason is pleased about. The Commission this afternoon is meeting to discuss Saturday's race formats.


Mason believes teams will use two sets of hard Dunlop tyres for both the qualifying sessions and the two 60km races.

"Watch for some teams who may choose to re-use tyres in race two and have a better bank for Sundays 200km race," he said.

"The difference at Winton compared to Perth is that there's not a 'weak corner' on the car - at Perth, the right front tyre does relatively little work, so there was the opportunity to save at least one or two tyres on Saturday, which makes the re-using of soft compound tyres later in the race more appealing as the tyres can be 'cross-swapped' or 'diagonaled'."

For Sunday's 200km race - during which strategy plays a huge part - Mason explained there were two trains of thought for tyre use.

"Either soft-hard-re-used softs, or hard-hard-softs," he said.

"Tyre degradation will be substantial regardless of the compound. Generally the hard tyre plateau's after a lot of laps but obviously its initial pace is a lot slower. The issue with the soft tyre is its tendency to 'fall off the cliff' which dramatically increases lap times."

Teams will use Friday's degradation runs and historic data for indications of how long the soft tyre will last, and Saturday will give a good showing of how competitive hard tyre pace will be.


Tyre strategy will determine when the teams decide to take the required 120L of fuel during Sunday's race - but Mason suggested stops will split the race into thirds.

"The timing of these stops will more than likely be dependent on the amount of running teams think they can do on the soft tyre."

While three stops was a possibility in Perth, he says three stops hasn't worked at Winton in the past - but who knows where a Safety Car could fall.

Safety Cars

Perth showed exactly how the Safety Car could change a race and ruin a team's strategic plan.

"There is always a balance between risk and reward when deciding which strategy is best during any pre-race strategy discussions. Whilst potentially quicker over a race distance, any mid or late Safety Car effectively ruins the soft-hard- re-used soft strategy, which is what we saw with those who started on softs in Perth," Mason said.

Click here for ticketing information, or stay tuned this weekend for all the V8 Supercars action:

Saturday - Race 10: 13.50, Race 11: 16.20, FOX SPORTS 506
Highlights: 20.30 ONE, 24.00 Ten.

Sunday - Race 12: 13.15, FOX SPORTS 506
Highlights: 16.00 Ten, 20.30 ONE.

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