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PRODRIVE RACING – BATHURST 1000 PREVIEW

Following a disappointing result at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, Prodrive Racing (Australia) looks to put the Great Race’s frustrations behind heading to the beach and the Gold Coast 600. PRA drivers have had sporadic success on the 2.96km street circuit, but the team hopes to put its recently improved car pace to good use in its quest for a fifth – and possibly sixth – race win in Surfers Paradise.

With three events remaining in the 2017 season, there is still plenty to play for in the championship for Chaz Mostert. The driver of the #55 Supercheap Auto FG X sits fourth in points, just 223 points behind leader Fabian Coulthard. A strong weekend for the Queensland resident could prove invaluable as the 2017 season reaches its home stretch.

Mostert and co-driver Steve Owen also sit tied for second in the Pirtek Enduro Cup standings heading into the final of the three-event championship, 66 points out of the lead and knotted with Sandown 500 winners Cameron Waters and Richie Stanaway (#6 Monster Energy FG X).

Bathurst told separate tales for PRA’s other two entries, as Jason Bright and Garry Jacobson scored an eighth place finish in one of the #56 MEGA Fuels FG X’s best performances of 2017. Meanwhile Mark Winterbottom and Dean Canto battled setup and treacherous conditions all day en route to a deflating DNF after Winterbottom found the tyre barrier while running fifth on the penultimate lap.

DRIVERS’ VIEW
#5 The Bottle-O PRA Ford
Mark Winterbottom
“The Gold Coast round is a favourite of mine, and we’re looking forward to a new race weekend. Bathurst left a sour taste in our mouths so we definitely want to have a good clean run this weekend and score some points. I think we should have the car pace to run up front, and we aren’t thinking championship at this point, so we’ll go out and push for the podium. Deano and I both have wins at Gold Coast, so it’d be great to get one together, and if we can get two together, that’d be pretty nice as well.”
Dean Canto
“Obviously we’re looking to get back on track after the way Bathurst turned out, and it’ll be nice to do it at such a cool place like Gold Coast. I’ve been racing there for quite a while, and have been strong there with this team in recent years, so I think we’ll be right up there in terms of pace. It’ll just come down to avoiding mistakes and taking advantage when opportunities come. You have to be careful because if you mess up at all you’re at best likely to be overtaken and at worst you’re in the fence, but at the same time you have to be able to go for a gap when it opens. It’s always a tough weekend but hopefully we’re on the right side of things this time around.”

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#6 Monster Energy PRA Ford
Cameron Waters
“We’ve had pretty good pace at the past few races, so we’ll look to keep that up. We’re also second in the Enduro Cup, so we’ll go in and give it a red hot crack and see if we can win that. The Gold Coast track is challenging, there’s no room for mistakes so it’s very much risk versus reward, but I think Richie and I have nailed those situations pretty well, so if we can keep it straight we’ll be in for a good result. It looks like it might rain as well, which would make a tough track even tougher, but we’ve been strong in the wet at Sandown and Bathurst, so either way it should be a good event for us.”
Richie Stanaway
“With the way things turned out at Bathurst, I’m glad we have another race to get over the disappointment, and we’ve still got a shot at the Enduro Cup, so there’s plenty to play for. Gold Coast is tricky because of all the kerbs and tight streets. There’s no runoff and hardly any time to rest, so we’ll be full on all weekend, but we should be really competitive again, so we’ll go for it and see if we can get another top result.”

#55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford
Chaz Mostert
“Gold Coast’s become a bit of a home race, just down the road from me since I’ve moved to Queensland. The track itself is tough and unforgiving, and 100-plus laps of smashing over the kerbs really takes a toll on the car and driver, so it’s a bit of a workout for everyone. We’re getting down to the last few races, so we need to make the most of this weekend for the championship. I’ve had some decent results there and the team’s been really sharp of late, so if we can keep plucking along like we have we can be in for a big weekend.”
Steve Owen
“It’s a good chance to make up for a Bathurst we’d like to forget. Fortunately we were right on the pace at Bathurst, and hope to have that kind of strength again this weekend. Gold Coast is a tough track with all the bumps and concrete, and having two races adds to that a bit more, but if we have as good a car as we had last time out we should be right up there.”

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#56 MEGA Bulk Fuels PRA Ford
Jason Bright
“The Gold Coast event is always a highlight on the calendar and there is no track like it on our calendar. As a driver you get so much air going over the curbs, it’s just as wild in the car as it looks outside of it. I haven’t had a podium there since they started using surfboards as trophies, so I am keen to get one in the trophy cabinet, hopefully this is the year.”
Garry Jacobson
“It’s my first time racing at Gold Coast in a Supercar, so I’m excited to get on track. I had a good drive at Bathurst, kept it clean, which was relieving after I made some mistakes at Sandown, so it’s nice to have that momentum coming in, and I’m hoping to have an even better run this weekend. The car was pretty strong, and the team have been working hard, so hopefully we can have another good run to finish the enduros off on a high note.”

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Tim Edwards – Team Principal
“We’re ready to get back to the track, even if just to put Bathurst behind us. It’s a good opportunity to bounce back from a tough weekend, and a chance to get a big points pay off late in the season. We’re right there for the Enduro Cup, which would make up quite a bit for the disappointment from Bathurst.”

EVENT NAME: Vodafone Gold Coast 600
DATE: 20 – 22 October
LOCATION: Surfers Paradise, Queensland
EVENT NUMBER: 12 of 14
FORMAT: Friday – 3 x 30-min practice (1 x co-driver only); Saturday – 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x 102-lap race; Sunday – 1 x 20-min qualifying, Top Ten Shootout (1-lap), 1 x 102-lap race
CIRCUIT: streets of Surfers Paradise
LENGTH: 2.96 -kilometres
DESCRIPTION: The tightest street circuit on the calendar, this difficult layout combines straight-line speed with the slowest and narrowest of corners, making panel rubbing and major accidents normal for the event. Having stated this, drivers enjoy being aggressive at this circuit as the rewards are great for the effort, but the price to pay for a mistake, just like any street circuit, can be major.
TRACK RECORD: 1m10.05s, David Reynolds (2013)
PRA BEST RESULT: 1st – Steven Richards (2008), Mark Winterbottom (2009), Mark Winterbottom & Richard Lyons (2011), David Reynolds & Dean Canto (2013)