Team 18 drivers Mark Winterbottom and Scott Pye are ready to bounce back at Symmons Plains, with a tight contest expected as Supercars returns to the Apple Isle for this weekend’s Beaurepaires Tasmania SuperSprint.
With results of fourth, 11th and 10th at the last event a month ago at Sandown, Winterbottom is confident of a return to form in the IRWIN Commodore at one of his personal favourite circuits.
In his last visit to Tasmania, Winterbottom scored Team 18’s first pole position for the opening race of the weekend, and left there with the official race lap record, setting a 51.2276 second lap to take the previous record away from his now team-mate Scott Pye.
After a promising start to the weekend at Sandown that netted an eighth place in Race 5, Pye is looking to show the true performance of the DEWALT Commodore when the lights go out in Tasmania.
Pye currently sits 14th in the Drivers’ Championship with Winterbottom in fifth, only 40 points behind second-placed Jamie Whincup.
In the team’s battle, Team 18 sits in fourth place and within striking distance of the leading pack of Red Bull, Walkinshaw and Tickford.
The first race of the weekend on Saturday will feature a unique four-part qualifying format due to the short circuit layout and the importance of having a clear lap in qualifying.
The traditional first all-in ten-minute session has been split into two five-minute sessions for opposing cars in each two-car outfit. The top eight from each session will progress into Part 2, followed by a final ten-minute session for the top ten cars to decide the grid.
The grid for the two remaining races on Sunday, traditionally using a single ten-minute session, will now also be split in half for opposing cars in each garage.
Team 18 will hit the track for three 44 lap/110km sprint races featuring a compulsory pit stop, with the first cars hitting the track for Practice 1 at 9:20am on Saturday.
Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“If I could pick a track on the calendar to go to full of confidence, it would be Tasmania,” said Mark Winterbottom.
“It’s been good to me in the past and with the car we’ve got we’re a chance to be there or thereabouts, if we’re good enough we’ll be aiming for trophies.
“We had a fantastic start to the year at Bathurst, not outright speed but strong enough to be top five, but at Sandown in the dry I thought we were on. It didn’t work out in the first race on Saturday result-wise, but we were pushing for the win.
“I feel like we’ve got the speed, I’m feeling really confident with how I’m driving and what I want from the car, it’s reacting really well to what we’re throwing at it.
“Each corner is worth so much, so you just can’t get away with mistakes at Symmons Plains and to set a good time is so rewarding.
“While qualifying is one thing, racing will be all about slipstreaming and pitting at the right sequence, so it requires everything to go right to be successful there.”