Prodrive Racing (Australia)’s Jason Bright believes the Phillip Island 500’s new race format will open up strategy for teams with two, 250km races to take place across the weekend.
The addition of 130 kilometres to Saturday’s race and 50 kilometres to Sunday’s race over last year’s format means tyre degradation will play a large part in each of the hit-outs with some teams expected to take strategy gambles at the ocean-side circuit.
Bright, who has previously claimed a pole position at the track says he is looking forward to the extended challenge while emphasising the difference that the additional distance will make for drivers.
Chaz Mostert will once again focus on consistency while chasing the top step of the podium with the Supercheap Auto Racing driver to hold nothing back at the Victorian-based event.
Cameron Waters will look to continue his current run of form in Phillip Island where he is confident a top-10 result is achievable.
While the category will run on the new ‘hard’ tyre at Phillip Island, Mark Winterbottom believes the fast-flowing nature of the circuit will suit the PRA setup, similar to what we saw in Tasmania.
Mark Winterbottom – #5 The Bottle-O PRA Ford:
“Phillip Island is a good event. We’ve had some good battles there in the past and a few good results. If we can get our setup right I think we can be pretty quick but it will be really important for us to get on top of that early. Degradation will play a big part in both races as well so a focus for us will be nailing a setup that looks after our tyres but also gives us the speed that we need.”
Cameron Waters – #6 Monster Energy PRA Ford:
“It’s been a pretty full on start to the year so far. Every round I go to I’m learning a little bit more about the car and working really well with Brad so I’ve got some really good momentum going. For me it’s about building on that, making the car a little bit better and honing in on that driving stuff that I’ve been working on. I love Phillip Island. I’ve had a few good results there in the past which is nice. It’ll be cool to go there and build on what we’ve learnt so far this year.”
Chaz Mostert – #55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford:
“I’m looking forward to giving this event a red hot crack. They’re two long races but I think that could be good for us. Adam and the guys gave us an awesome strategy in Tasmania so if we can pull something out of the hat again and have speed similar to what we did I think we can keep improving. I’ve got a few things to focus on myself this weekend to stay consistent but it should be a good weekend.”
Jason Bright – #56 MEGA Bulk Fuels PRA Ford:
“Yeah 50 kilometres might not sound like a lot added on to a race but it does make quite a bit of difference strategy wise and especially on a track like Phillip Island where you do see quite a lot of tyre degradation. Everyone has been getting used to the new tyre and we’ve had a very wet weekend down in Tasmania so it’s certainly been a different start to the year and going to Phillip Island, 250kms on a track like that, it is certainly a different format to what we’re used to. I think tyre life is going to be key. It’s going to be interesting to see how it pans out. It’s not like the normal places that we have 250k races which are all street circuits so I think it will be good race strategy wise because you will see some guys coming home pretty strong.”
Tim Edwards – Team Principal:
“At Phillip Island we’ll be looking to keep building on what we’ve learnt so far this year and improving across the board. We saw glimpses of good performance in Tasmania so if we can focus on the positives and weed out the negatives we should be in a good position. We’re there or there abouts but I’m confident we can make further ground this weekend.”
DUNLOP SUPER2 SERIES
Prodrive Racing (Australia)’s Dunlop Super2 Series duo will aim for a consistent weekend at the Phillip Island 500 after a tumultuous outing at the previous event. Displaying promising speed in Tasmania, Garry Jacobson will look to claim back-to-back pole positions when he takes to the track on Friday. The Super2 Series will once again feature a four-race format at the event, which Josh Kean believes is beneficial for the field with the additional running time to give drivers more experience on-track.
Garry Jacobson – #1 MEGA Bulk Fuels PRA Ford:
“We had great pace in Tasmania and I think we will have a similar car at Phillip Island so it would be really good to get another pole position but hold on to the lead this time around. I’m confident we can do it. I had a really good weekend there last year. I know what we need for the track with these cars and how to race through it so I’m really excited to get down there with MEGA Bulk Fuels on board for this round as well.”
Josh Kean – #5 Wynns Racing PRA Ford:
“The four race format is really good. If you have a bit of bad luck in race one you can make ground bit by bit and hopefully by the end of the weekend you’re right back up and competing at the front of the field. We made some really good ground in Tasmania and having looked at the data I’m confident we can keep building on that and match the front-runners at this one. I definitely think I am becoming more comfortable in the car and if we can keep this pace up fingers crossed we can get some good results.”
EVENT NAME: Phillip Island 500
DATE: 21 – 23 April, 2017
LOCATION: Phillip Island, Victoria
EVENT NUMBER: 3 of 14
FORMAT: Friday – 2 x 40-minute practice; Saturday – 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x 57-lap race; Sunday – 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x 57-lap race
CIRCUIT: Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit
DESCRIPTION: Phillip Island is the venue of PRA’s first round victory in 2003. The track combines fast straights with double-apex, radial and hairpin turns, providing a challenging combination. The circuit is also one of the most picturesque on the calendar and offers a range of elevation changes across the lap. ‘The Island’ also offers excellent vantage points for spectators.
TRACK RECORD: 1m32.024s – Jamie Whincup (2013)
PRA BEST RESULT: 1st – Mark Winterbottom (2006 & 2012), Will Davison (2012)