SBR drivers believe shorter practice sessions could create havoc at Phillip Island. Stone Brothers Racing Ford drivers Marcos Ambrose and David Besnard believe reduced practice times for next weekend's second round of the V8...
SBR drivers believe shorter practice sessions could create havoc at Phillip Island.
Stone Brothers Racing Ford drivers Marcos Ambrose and David Besnard believe reduced practice times for next weekend's second round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series at Phillip Island in Victoria could cause avoidable on-track drama.
The pair is also of the opinion that drivers who have been forced to pre-qualify for next weekend's event because of poor qualifying performance in the opening round of the championship in Adelaide a month ago will actually have a major advantage next weekend.
The V8 Supercars have just two 20-minute practice sessions on Saturday before the field is broken in two for a couple of 25-minute qualifying sessions.
The teams who have to pre-qualify on Friday will have a 20-minute practice session and then a 15-minute qualifying session.
The reduction in practice time has been made to reduce weekend race costs with Sunday's two races being 150km in length, but Ambrose and Besnard believe it could ultimately cost more in damage bills.
The 13 drivers who will get extra practice time on Friday include Paul Radisich, Paul Morris, Brad Jones, Cameron McConville, Greg Ritter, Anthony Tratt, Paul Weel, John Faulkner, Cameron McLean, Rodney Forbes, Tomas Mezera, Dugal McDougall and Matthew White.
These drivers all failed to qualify in the top 25 in round one at the Clipsal 500 and will be battling for the final seven places on the 32-car grid.
Ambrose is currently ninth in the championship with 104 points and is keen to keep out of the way of any Phillip Island "rookies" next weekend.
"Phillip Island is a fast flowing circuit and really is a difficult place to get a quick lap time," said Ambrose, who drives the number four Pirtek Ford. "It takes some time to get up your confidence on some of those high-speed corners. "I must say that I'm glad I raced there last year and won't be going into Sunday's races with just a couple of 20 minute sessions under my belt."
Ambrose, last year's rookie of the year, also believes that the new rules will play into the hands of championship front-runners Holden Racing Team.
TWR, which campaigns two HRT cars for Mark Skaife and Jason Bright, a Young Lions Car for Rick Kelly and two K-mart cars for Greg Murphy and Todd Kelly, will effectively have five cars gathering data during the two 20-minute sessions.
"There is little doubt that a couple of 20-minute sessions will also help the cause of HRT dramatically," said Ambrose. "HRT used to use Phillip Island as a test track and they will have five cars running around at the weekend, all adding to the banks of data they already have."
Besnard is hoping to add dramatically to his points bank account after a couple of mechanical problems in the opening races of the season in Adelaide in his Caltex-Havoline Falcon.
The former national Formula Ford champion believes the reduction in practice times presents too many variables with a major advantage for some teams.
"I just don't think a couple of 20 minute sessions is enough, especially at the Island," said Besnard. "Maybe a better option would have been to limit the number of laps over a set period of time like they do in formula one. "That way you will have time to make changes to the car and get it right. You could also have cars on the track for an hour or so for the fans."
Besnard also believes there will be a lot of unnecessary pressure on several teams in the field.
"Phillip Island is a place that you have to sneak up on," said Besnard "I believe a couple of 20 minute sessions will place too much pressure on some guys to go quick too soon and that always presents a recipe for disaster."
* Network Ten will televise the second round of the V8 Supercar Series from 2.30pm to 5pm on Sunday April 14.