The Newcastle street circuit has undergone a tweak ahead of the third running of the Coates Hire Newcastle 500, in a bid to improve overtaking.
Next weekend’s event will run with a revised Turn 11 hairpin, which has been made into a sharper corner, with the apex pushed deeper into the run-off.
The change has been made following feedback from drivers and a review of the circuit design by Supercars’ engineering partner iEDM and consultant Mark Skaife.
Due to the tweak, there will be 11.5 metres of additional straight between the preceding sweeper and the hairpin, creating more opportunity for passing.
The alteration has been made by re-positioning temporary barriers and the inside kerbing for the corner, which now has a radius of 10m instead of the previous 15m.
It means the official track distance is now 2,641m, up 12m on the previous layout. The 95-lap durations of each Supercars race remain unchanged.
Resurfacing work has also been undertaken ahead of the 2019 event to provide more grip for drivers.
PIRTEK Enduro Cup winners Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes inspected the circuit today as part of pre-event promotional activities, giving their thoughts on the changes.
“We’re always looking for improvements, always looking at ways to make the track more enjoyable to drive on, plus offer more passing opportunities,” said Whincup.
“I think the change down here at Turn 11 is exactly that. We’ve been talking about it for a couple of years.
“It’s a crazy section, you’re right in between fifth and sixth gear.
“Now with the transaxle change, it’ll definitely be top gear as we come into this last little left-hand kink before we brake into the last section.
“We don’t have ABS [Anti-lock Braking System] on our cars, so the inside-front wheel, all it wants to do is lock-up and run you off into the harbour.
“Braking is really difficult and if a car had a little bit of an advantage, you could get close to the inside but there wasn’t quite enough room to go and make the pass.
“What the change is going to make is a little more opportunity to be able to dive to the inside and complete the pass, which I think is a plus.”
Lowndes, who after co-driving throughout the enduros will return to his Fox Sports broadcasting role in Newcastle, added: “I think it’s a great addition to the circuit layout.
“Any street circuit is always difficult to pass on, but having the space to be able to do this will open more and more opportunity.
“Especially we’ve seen in the last couple of years, this particular corner comes alive when you’ve got 25 cars running around the circuit.”
The 2019 Coates Hire Newcastle 500 will take place from November 22-24.