Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin -- A Lap with Marcos Ambrose Hidden Valley is one of the most variable tracks on the schedule and it really all comes down to the weather. It is always hot in Darwin, but just how hot, can mean the difference in you...
Hidden Valley Raceway, Darwin -- A Lap with Marcos Ambrose
Hidden Valley is one of the most variable tracks on the schedule and it really all comes down to the weather. It is always hot in Darwin, but just how hot, can mean the difference in you approach to an entire weekend.
It is a pretty good feeling charging down the main straight, which is one of the longest in the series at 1.1km and pretty amazing when you consider the size of the circuit.
You can really stretch the legs of the car and as you charge towards turn one you know you have a pretty good overtaking opportunity if you get yourself in the right position.
You can really force guys to defend on this corner and there have been plenty who have got themselves into trouble on this part of the circuit.
This is a pretty flat second or third gear corner depending on the day and tyre conditions.
Turn one runs into turn two and on the exit of this the track flicks left and then right and you can take this flat out on good tyres.
It is then into the tight right hander, which you again take in second. This sets you up for the short shoot to the left-hand hairpin.
This part of the track is mega tight and very flat. The car can slide off the circuit very easily here if you are slightly off line because of all the marbles which build up during the day.
Good traction is important on the exit because you then short shift to third to get into the right-hander sweeper -- almost flat out.
This takes us into my favourite part of the circuit. You short change to fourth gear, kick left and then take the big sweeping left-hand bend up over the rise.
The car moves around a lot through here, but it is a section where you can make up a lot of time if you attack it.
As you head into the final corner there is a left and then right kink in the braking area. You need to bounce off the kerbs to get the car straight for the entry on to the straight.
A hot day in Darwin can really take its toll on your body and it is difficult to maintain your concentration.
The big long straight allows you to use all your horsepower, but at the same time you also need to be spot on with your set-up because of the tight, challenging bits.
A good lap in Darwin is very rewarding.
THOUGHTS ON HIDDEN VALLEY, DARWIN
MARCOS AMBROSE -- PIRTEK RACING
Hidden Valley has an absolutely fantastic atmosphere and is one of my favourite meetings of the year. The whole city really gets behind the event and we are made feel so welcome. The races are tough with such high humidity, but it is easier to drink VB at the post-race party on Sunday night. Horsepower is very important with the long straight, which also creates plenty of opportunities to set up a pass.
MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT
This came during my first race there in 2001. At the back of the track there is a 24-hour pub, it smelt like a nightclub on the morning after. I could not work out what the smell was. Every time I went past all I could see were bodies lying on the ground and up against the fence. It was not until we went around on the victory parade lap that I realised what was going on. Darwin will always be a special place for me because it was the venue of my first championship round win.
RUSSELL INGALL -- CALTEX HAVOLINE RACING
If you asked me a few years ago about going to Darwin to race I would have laughed, but as it has turned out, Hidden Valley has developed into one of the success stories of the championship. They have done an outstanding job on the circuit, considering half of it was built on the side of a hill. I am sure it must have been overwhelming when the road show came into town the first time. The organisers did not panic, just got on with the job of looking after the teams and drivers like we were royalty. A couple of other circuits could take note.
Hidden Valley is one of my most successful circuits of the championship and I am sure the Stone Brothers Racing boys will have plenty of grunt for us for the long straight.
Doing a photo shoot next to an eight metre saltwater crocodile. Thankfully it was very sedated, but it was still eyeing me off like I was to be lunch.