Philip Island 2018 | 8 Minute Read

Supercars Report – Philip Island

1. McLaughlin Ford

McLaughlin at full pace on one of the most picturesque tracks in the business.

It goes without saying that this circuit belongs to Scott McLaughlin. The man has a rhythm to his driving here that just flows between the continuous sweeps and corners. I have watched the race 10 qualifying pole lap a number of times and he his talking to the car through his hands and feet… in charge…feedback from the machine is corrected firmly without fighting it. The smooth exit onto the main straight feeding in the power progressively with the car gently washing out of the apex to the rumble strips is magic…he is part of the mechanism. Lovely to watch.

HOLDEN

2. Holdens Philip Island

Red Bull Holden’s had a difficult weekend

 

The honeymoon is over for the ZB and from now on it is going to be the hard yards. We touched on what the magic bullet was in car pace so far this year. Some say aero was the answer and with Philip Island being arguably the best aero track on the tour, we should have seen the quick corners dominated by the Holden’s. I never saw that and if anything the DJR Fords showed more composure in this territory. Did anyone spot just how Scott lost ground to Whincup down the straight in race 9 despite him hugging the slipstream coming out of turn 12 ….that was odd…The Holden was a rocket ship so that maybe a strength that will appear on longer tracks. The advantage showed in the last 200-300 metres before the brake zone.

It seems that the ZB is more difficult to get into the sweet spot and only two drivers have got a handle on it more consistently, Whincup and Reynolds. SVG and Lowndes are iffy and the expected challenge from Walkinshaw fizzled.

Overall not a good weekend for the General’s leading team particularly after losing the 2nd place to finger trouble in race 9. No doubt the group will introspect and get ready for Perth. Dave Reynolds is however showing us how it can be done. What is really good here is that Erebus are able to progress over a weekend and have not got lost in the set-up game. That shows good coms between drivers and techies. Those questioning whether Dave is aggressive enough should back off. The man is showing a maturity in difficult situations that get him to the flag in one piece and consistently high up the order. If he continues on this tack he will be in contention for the title chase….our ‘dark horse’ team choice has been the right one. Let’s hope they stick to the plan.

FORD

3. Ford Pole

DJR Penske a happy crew after the weekend..this was also the track at which the team fired for the first time last year…and continued doing so…will they do the same in 2018?

Nice one men. That tells it like it is and I think the game is on for our record pole man. My observation is about car balance and both McLaughlin and Coulthard seem to have that in setting up the Falcons. The difference between the DJR cars and Tickford is four words… Smooth vs ‘not so smooth’..in fact bordering on rough. Whilst the Penske machines were quietly going about their business, the rest of the Fords were all over the place visiting sand traps, banging into things and generally looking ragged. Chill men you are trying too hard. The lads should take a step back and just for one race meeting not try to drive the wheels off the things. Somewhere there is the answer because it is just not cricket to see Mostert and Winterbottom battling to get into the top ten. Waters and Stanaway are also having a really bad time way down the order and their luck must change…not so much to afford better finishing but less drama. Here is hoping they will settle down as well.

The bright light on the horizon is the arrival of the Mustang for next year and that must bring new life to Ford. With Just eight Fords against 14 Holdens I hope that balance is also adjusted and we see a few more Blue Oval teams in pit lane next year. Ford are pushing for more brands on the grid so maybe the lads want to keep to eight cars to make it more manageable.

The big question now will be how soon the General hauls out the Camaro as a counter-weapon. Current sentiment is that it will happen… and that will be absolutely magic. When both cars are on track it will be special in a way that only us oldies can remember. The last meeting of these two 5 Litre Pony cars running against one another, both with full factory backing on road courses, was 1969 and the Trans Am championship in the USA. So far the score is 2 / 1 to Chevrolet…67 went to Ford, ‘68 and ’69 to Chevy….But here is the rub, Penske cut his teeth as a team owner/manager with Chevrolet and that Camaro…this time he is running with Ford. I cannot wait…this battle is not over.

4. Ford Mustang Supercar
5. Chevy Camaro Supercar

Unfinished business:

Score:   Chevrolet 2, Ford 1   

After 50 years could it be return of serve in 2019?

NISSAN

5. Nissan in Front

Nissan, Holden, Nissan and Ford Ford Ford..the order halfway through race 10

Now that’s better. The lads have put it together in style. Two third places for a weekends work is just what Nissan needed and it was not just a one car wonder either, Kelly the front runner but Caruso 5th in race ten. The cars are quick and watching the lap chart during the race, were able to give as good as they got. Also significant the fact that Kelly finished both races just three odd seconds behind Mclaughlin.. One got the feeling that that was about as good as they could achieve with the car and are to be commended for a super effort in aggressive pit strategy. If this is what they can do, it is going to be a good season indeed.

For the rest Heimgartner continues to show promise and will undoubtedly be up there with his more experienced team mates in good time. For Simona it has been difficult and is being embroiled in too many ‘he said, she said’ skirmishes for her own good. It is very easy to be critical but this can be something of a contact sport, particularly when one loses confidence, so my advice would be the same as the Tickford guys, chill, collect yourself for one round and go again..

Just a thought….Does anyone know if the Supercar race cage could be fitted inside a GTR?…just thinking.

THE REST

Again I am impressed with the presentation and communication of activities. The technical explanations clarifying the issues around fuel, track characteristics and cars is the best in the business. We knew that the issues of tyre failure at this track were an issue and the talk about aggressive set ups can be confusing to the average enthusiast. With Larko taking a simple spirit level to the starting grid and explaining the reasons for and consequences of setting front wheel camber, using the race car as a prop…perfect. Also the tyre strategy explanation…this is good stuff and creates understanding and that boosts interest.

See you all in Perth in ten days…

By | 2018-04-26T09:47:33+00:00 April 24th, 2018|Categories: Australian Touring Car Racing|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

About the Author:

I have been in the motor industry all my life and despite spending 20 odd years with Datsun/Nissan, remain a GM man at heart.

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