Team 18 are back on track this weekend for Round 2 of the 2022 Repco Supercars Championship at the Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint.
The 49th championship round at Symmons Plains is one for the record books for IRWIN Racing’s Mark Winterbottom, who is set to become the most-capped driver at the venue. It will also mark Frosty’s 252nd Supercars round, drawing equal with Jamie Whincup for sixth on the all-time round starts list.
Winterbottom has started 43 races at Symmons Plains and has finished every one of them in a streak dating back to his first race at the track in 2004. Only Craig Lowndes and Jason Bright are ahead of him on the Symmons Plains starts list on 44.
His recent Tassie form includes four top-ten finishes in his last five races and he scored Team 18’s first pole position in 2019.
Scott Pye will also take in some good form to Tasmania in the Seiko 5 Sports Racing #20, with five top ten finishes in his last seven races there.
The team will be looking to take their race pace from the first round in Sydney through to Tasmania in a weekend which saw mechanical issues ultimately affect their race performance. Race 1 saw Pye ruled out by a power steering failure, while Winterbottom battled a throttle issue to finish in 16th. Race 2 saw Pye recover with strong race pace however battled another power steering issue to finish in 15th, as Winterbottom finished 12th in the mixed conditions.
A short yet fast lap characterises the 2.41km Symmons Plains layout. The Turn 4 hairpin and the Turn 6 left-hander at the end of the back straight are the two best passing opportunities. The banking at the hairpin makes for a unique opportunity to line up a good run out of one of the slowest corners on the entire Supercars calendar.
The Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint features a two-day format, with cars first hitting the track for Practice 1 on Saturday at 9:50am local time. Race 3 of the championship will be held on Saturday, with Races 4 & 5 on Sunday. The three-part knockout qualifying format returns for Saturday, with Part 1 lasting 12 minutes and Parts 2 and 3 lasting 10 minutes. Two back-to-back all-in 12-minute sessions will set the grid for Races 4 and 5 respectively.
All the action can be viewed live on Fox Sports and Kayo, with post-race highlights shown on Channel 7.
Mark Winterbottom, driver #18 IRWIN Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“I love Tassie, I think it’s one of the best tracks we go to. It’s small, unique and the qualifying lap has you on the edge of your seat given how tight it is. Personally I’ve gone well there and I really enjoy it, so to rack up a big number there is quite special.
“I’ve had a good finishing rate but that also comes down to mechanical reliability as well. Although it’s a low-risk crashing track I’ve seen some monster crashes there and got away with some. I remember in 2017 when half the field piled up and I just escaped that, so I wouldn’t say the 100% finishing rate has been easy, there’s been a lot of close calls along the way.
“Qualifying is crucial there for track position. It’s such a small lap, only five corners so it’s hard to nail the lap. I’ve had a few pole positions there which has been great and race wins are tough, you can have the perfect day and it can come down to the pits, you can make the slightest mistake and you’ll never get it back because it’s such a small lap and a tight field spread. It’s a good feeling to nail that lap because although it’s a small lap it has many challenges.”
Scott Pye, driver #20 Seiko 5 Sports Racing Holden ZB Commodore
“Our team has had good pace there in the past, our speed was quite good at Sydney so I think we’re in a good position with that and hopefully we’re on top of our reliability issues and we can capitalise on our car speed.
“I think in Sydney the car speed was looking really good in the final race and that puts in a good mindset heading to Tassie knowing we have that car balance underneath us.
“Symmons Plains is an exciting track and for sure being as tight as it is puts a real emphasis on qualifying. I think our car has been good there typically so I’m looking forward to going back there, whether it suits me or not I’m not too sure about but I love going there and I always give it everything I’ve got there.
“With it being such a short lap it’s exciting to hang it on the limit in qualifying and in the racing it’s all happening pretty fast, it’s good fun to push it max-attack for the entire time out there.”
Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint, 26-27 March 2022
Local time: AEDT
Practice 1 – 9:50am (30 minutes)
Practice 2 – 11:40am (30 minutes)
Qualifying (Race 1) – 1:50pm (three-part)
Race 1 – 4:55pm (44 laps)
TV Times, Fox: 9:30am to 6:00pm
TV Times, Channel 7: Sunday 1:00am – 2:00am
Qualifying (Race 4) – 10:35am (12 minutes)
Qualifying (Race 5) – 10:57am (12 minutes)
Race 4 – 1:00pm (44 laps)
Race 5 – 3:55pm (44 laps)
TV Times, Fox: 9:30am to 5:15pm
TV Times, Channel 7: Monday 12:00am to 1:00pm