THE SEASON OPENER IS HERE

 After three years of splitting Saturday’s opening leg of the annual Clipsal 500 Supercars season in Adelaide into two races, this weekend we finally revert to the original format of the event for the first time since 2013.
 
That means the opening round of the 2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship will once again be fought out over two 250km legs, one on Saturday and the other on Sunday, a decision that’s a win for the fans I think.
 
Reality is that the longer race formats provide more time for on-track action, different strategies to play out, for Safety Cars to influence what happens … in short for the racing and therefore the outcome to be less predictable.
 
Having the two 250km legs gives the trackside and television audiences big bang for their bucks, and really stretches the teams and drivers in every way, given that these are the first two races of the year.
 
Add to that the weather which, as usual, looks like being very hot both days … so in-car cooling and driver hydration are going to be paramount – a really important factor to consider for the several drivers new to the series this year.
 
It’s amazing, isn’t it, that as we enter Autumn around this time every year for the Clipsal weekend we get this last major summer heatwave travel across from Perth through Adelaide, and then onto Melbourne.
 
Last year, on the Saturday the conditions were crazy hot, and even in the shorter 125km races it was a real struggle … the heat in the footwell was ridiculous.
 
That was at half the distance of this year’s races, so the heat is going to be absolutely punishing and a real talking point this weekend.
 
For the first time ever this year, there will also be a Top Ten Shootout for Pole Position, for both legs of the Clipsal 500 event.
 
I’ve never understood why there was always a Top Ten Shootout for the Saturday race but not one on Sunday, it’s never made sense to me … so again, I think this is a win for the fans.
 
No matter how ready you think you are, it’s amazing that in the last week or so leading up to the first round, there’s always a scramble to get things done.
 
At Tekno that’s no different, there’s been a myriad of things to do, plus (my engineer) Campbell (Little) has been busy doing some last-minute fettling on the Woodstock-Tekno Autosports Commodore.
 
Added to that, Tekno is running a McLaren in the Australian GT Championship season opener in Adelaide too, with Fraser Ross sharing with McLaren factory driver Come Ledogar (in a one-off appearance following the Bathurst 12 Hour earlier this month), so the workshop has been a pretty busy place this past fortnight.
 
I am delighted to be starting my second season for Tekno, it’s really good coming to Clipsal in a familiar car.
 
You never get the cockpit ergonomics sorted on day one with a new team or car, it takes a few events, and that compromises you at Clipsal at an event you really want to put your best foot forward at.
 
It always sucks changing teams because getting those ergonomics right takes time, so I know it’s going to be tough for the guys new to their cars at Clipsal this year.
 
Tyres will be another unknown but for everyone.
 
Despite testing at Sydney Motorsport Park a week or so ago in warm conditions it was nothing like the ‘oven’ that Clipsal is going to be, plus the track is quite different, so none of us really got a read on the degradation of the ‘soft’ tyre we’ll be using in both Clipsal legs this year.
 
That tyre feels much like the hard tyre of 2016 but we don’t know enough about it yet to understand what it’ll do at Clipsal in the conditions, so how all that plays out with race strategies will be interesting to see.
 
Adelaide’s event is one of the highlights of the season, of course, because it is so big, so well organised and such a great showcase for our sport.
 
For a driver, it’s always one you want to win … and not just because it’s the season opener.
 
Clipsal’s Adelaide street circuit is one of the best tracks we go to.
 
It’s tough … it’s lined with concrete walls which keep the heat in, so fatigue is an issue unless you’re fit and well hydrated, and those same walls punish any mistake at all.
 
You don’t have to make much of an error to be out of the race … and because there’s nowhere to go, it’s very easy to get caught up in someone else’s accident too.
 
I’ve had some good success there over the years and I love the place … I’m chasing a podium at the very least.
 
See you trackside.
 
Will
 
 

« back
CONSOLIDATING CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCES
18.05.2017
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MOMENTUM BUILDING IN THE WEST
11.05.2017
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THE RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK
20.04.2017
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TASSIE BOUND
06.04.2017
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AGP TIME
23.03.2017
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JUMPING IN THE DEEP END
09.03.2017
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THE SEASON OPENER IS HERE
01.03.2017
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2017 TEST DAY WRAP
14.02.2017
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BATHURST 12 HOUR WRAP UP
10.02.2017
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2017 AUSTRALIAN MOTOR RACING SEASON IS UPON US!
03.02.2017
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SYDNEY FINALE
09.12.2016
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PASSING IN PUKEKOHE
11.11.2016
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STACKING UP THE NUMBERS
28.10.2016
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CONQUERING THE MOUNTAIN
12.10.2016
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SUCCESS AT SANDOWN
21.09.2016
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POWERING ON TO SANDOWN
12.09.2016
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MID-SEASON
11.08.2016
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QUEENSLAND RACEWAY BLUES
27.07.2016
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TAKING ON TOWNSVILLE
18.07.2016
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THE WILD WEST
13.05.2016
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TASSIE TRIUMPH
08.04.2016
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HEADING SOUTH
31.03.2016
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WE'RE BACK
16.03.2016
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THE HOME STRETCH
18.11.2015
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WELCOME TO BATHURST
08.10.2015
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PUSHING FORWARD IN QUEENSLAND
13.08.2015
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LESSONS FROM THE NORTH
08.07.2015
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WINTON WOES
19.05.2015
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PERTH PERFECTION
11.05.2015
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ONE YEAR LATER
15.04.2015
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ROCKY START TO THE YEAR
16.03.2015
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