Drivers wary of Tassie qualifying slip-ups

18 May 2023
'If you give away a tenth, we’ve seen that could cost 10 positions'
3 mins by James Pavey

After a weekend of fine margins in Perth, drivers are braced for much of the same pressure at Symmons Plains.

The 2023 Repco Supercars Championship resumes this weekend at the NED Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint.

For the second round in succession, drivers have just 2.4km and seven corners to play with — but the stakes are higher in Tasmania.

Instead of 90 minutes of practice and a three-day race meeting, drivers have a combined 60 minutes of practice before they dive into knockout qualifying.

There, Q3 in qualifying has been reduced from 15 to 10 minutes, with drivers now armed with less time to set their flyers.

The Gen3 cars have proved difficult from an engineering standpoint, with the likes of Shane van Gisbergen and Broc Feeney both caught out in Perth.

Supercars legend Garth Tander, who won seven races at Symmons Plains, believes the margins will be tighter this weekend versus Perth.

In Perth, all three ARMOR ALL Pole Positions were won by less than 0.1s.

"Symmons Plains will be a tricky track to showcase those gains with the margins super close around there,” Team 18 veteran Mark Winterbottom said.

"If you find a tenth of a second you could be five or six spots up.

“Our aim is to unlock the potential of our car early to put ourselves in the best position for qualifying."

Matt Stone Racing rookie Cameron Hill added: “I think it’s going to be so important to nail a lap.


"If you get one corner wrong and give away a tenth, we’ve seen that could cost 10 positions in Supercars this year.

"You have to look at it as an opportunity and everyone is in the same boat. This is a championship where qualifying is the most important part of the weekend.

"With everyone being so close, track position's key, so there’s going to be a lot of emphasis on getting that right."

Traffic is also set to play a key role in both practice and qualifying as drivers aim to find clean air and set clean laps.

Nulon Racing driver Tim Slade said the track, while short, calls on drivers to be inch-perfect.

“The Symmons Plains circuit is a tricky track, but one that I enjoy,” Slade said.

"It demands perfection and we know the field is going to be incredibly close, so I am expecting it to be a challenging weekend with some great racing."

On the shorter Q3, Brad Jones Racing’s Macauley Jones said: "I think that'll be a bit better.

"It feels hectic when it is 10 minute sessions, especially around this joint, because you are doing quite a few laps."

Supercars will hit the track for the first time on Saturday for Practice 1 at 9:00am local time.

Tickets for the event are on sale on Supercars.com and Ticketek.com.

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