'Switching' back to Sprint mode

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 30/07/2015
  • By Riana Crehan

Is it over for the Champ? That's the question on everybody's lips.

He is 391 points down and sits eight on the Championship ladder. He hasn't been this far behind since round six in 2006, and he eventually finished his first full time season with Triple Eight in 10th position.

The team has admitted it isin a 'form slump' and with just two wins from 17 races this year and his last podium coming in Race Eight at Perth, the task seems increasingly more difficult.

However, we head into this weekend - Championship event number seven of 14. We have half a seasonof racing to go and with 300 points on offer for a single race at Sandown and Bathurst, many are shying away from completely ruling it out just yet.

We are back sprinting this weekend. Street battles take a back seat for the next phase in the Championship as we gear up and prepare for the critical endurance part of the year.

The next two weekends are vital. The final two SuperSprint events before the PIRTEK Enduro Cup campaign kick off at Sandown in September. The schedule includes two 60km races on Saturday, with the second race on soft tyres and a 200km race on Sunday with mixed tyre compounds.

This weekend marks the first withan exclusive session for additional drivers on Friday, so we can expect to see the majority of the co- drivers making the most of this session including DJR Team Penske's Marcos Ambrose.

Many drivers will stress the importance of coming out of the next two rounds with maximum points possible but with minimum stress to teams. Such a huge amount of workload is about to be heaped onto an already stretched army of guys and girls in the coming weeks and if teams can come out of the other side of the next two events heading into the Enduros with little damage and strong momentum, it all helps come September.

Mindset for the enduro campaign can be dictated by the outcome of these events. Maximum attack or consolidate for safety. One decision can make or break a season when 300 points are on offer.

Townsville ended up being Craig Lowndes' worst round of the year, only managing to break into the top 10 once over the entire weekend.

PRA confirmed its strength on a circuit where the team had doubts and the Volvo was back, albeit a brief moment in the sun.

RBRA has made some aggressive decisions in order to seek redemption in the second half of this season. Bolstering its engineering line-up with 'Dutto' (mark Dutton) continuing as Whincup's engineer and having a dedicated data/performance engineer on each car, the team believes this will be the first step towards gaining pace back.

If the team can turn around its season here, Lowndes with 11 wins, Whincup with four and equal most pole positions with five, history says Red Bull should perform.

But 2015 has taught us that this is a very different year.

Queensland Raceway is short and sweet. Six corners, and four of those are right- handers and its all one level.

Some may assume it could produce predictable racing, however the last five pole positions have been held by five different drivers and given the variety of passing opportunities at turns one coming off momentum from the last corner, three, four and six in the past we have seen plenty of overtaking as the drivers manage degrading tyres.

2014 saw Nissan Motorsport shine with a polo position for Moffat and a front row for his teammate Caruso, but both boys went for a late race passing opportunity that saw them red faced and off the track.

Nissan has shown some great speed in the last couple of events and will be looking for redemption for last year's mistakes.

On the flip side Frosty the form guy doesn't have the best track record at the 'switch'. Only two race wins that were way back in 2008 and a single pole position in 2009, it was also the turning point of the Championship in 2014 and he failed to win a race for the remainder of the year.

I get the feeling though that PRA is not about to let history repeat itself.

Riana's Wrap

- Pressure should be on DJR Team Penske for results given the team's equipment and relationship with PRA.
- Watch for the resurgence of Red Bull. If it doesn't happen this week, I think we can put a fork in Whincup's Championship title hopes.
- Volvo's mystery speed from Townsville? Where did it come from? Was it real?

Twitter and Instagram: @rianacrehan

Tickets are still available for the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint -click here for all the event information.

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