Eastern Creek: Wayne Gardner preview

Wayne Gardner returns "Home" to Eastern Creek. One of Australia's greatest motorsport heroes Wayne Gardner returns "home" to the Eastern Creek Raceway tomorrow for his first V8 Supercar appearance at the Sydney circuit since 1997. Gardner will...

Wayne Gardner returns "Home" to Eastern Creek.

One of Australia's greatest motorsport heroes Wayne Gardner returns "home" to the Eastern Creek Raceway tomorrow for his first V8 Supercar appearance at the Sydney circuit since 1997.

Gardner will make his second start of the season in his Caltex Havoline Ford for Stone Brothers Racing and will be attempting to qualify for the third round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.

The 1987 world 500cc champion successfully made it through pre-qualifying for the opening round of the season in Adelaide last month, but he missed round two at Phillip Island a fortnight ago because of his commitments in the Japanese GT Championship.

His absence from Phillip Island means that Gardner will have to fight it out with 13 other drivers for the final seven places on the grid tomorrow afternoon.

The session will not be easy with drivers the caliber of former two-time national champion Glenn Seton, Mark Larkham, Paul Morris, Neil Crompton, Cameron McConville and Greg Ritter just some of the high-profile drivers also in the race.

Gardner first raced at Eastern Creek on a grand prix bike before taking his own V8 Supercar team to the venue in the mid 90s.

"When I had my own V8 team it was based just around the corner, so I guess it's like coming home this weekend," said Gardner. "I have had a lot of good results here over the years and hopefully we can keep that going this weekend. "Having to pre-qualify adds a little more pressure, but I am confident that the progress of Stone Brothers Racing Fords in the last round at Phillip Island and our recent test at Queensland Raceway will see us get through OK. "David (Besnard) and Marcos (Ambrose) showed the improvements in car speed with their results at Phillip Island and I certainly think the team can put a lot of that knowledge to good use at Eastern Creek."

Gardner is not only hoping to make the field tomorrow, but to then qualify in the top 25 for the actual race on Saturday, so he will not have to pre-qualify for the next round at Hidden valley in Darwin next month.

That will be Gardner's last appearance before he teams up with David Besnard for the VIP Petfoods Queensland 500 in September and the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at Bathurst in October.

Details for Round Three of the 2002 V8 Supercar Series:
Top-10 Shootout Saturday 27 April - 3.30pm
Race 1 (13 laps - 51.09km) Saturday 27 April - 5.05pm
Race 2 (39 laps -- 153.27km) Sunday 28 April - 11.15am
Race 3 (39 laps -- 153.27km) Sunday 28 April - 2.45pm

Circuit: Eastern Creek, New South Wales
Length: 3.93km Lap Record:
Qualifying - 1m.31.3941s (Murphy 2001)
Shootout - 1m.30.8955s (Ambrose 2001)
Race - 1m.31.7301s (Skaife 2000)

Estimated top speed: 265 kph - Pit Straight
Estimated average speed: 147 kph

A LAP OF EASTERN CREEK WITH WAYNE GARDNER

It will be great to back in front of my home crowd at Eastern Creek this weekend let's look at what we can expect..

You're in sixth gear down the long, downhill pit straight, and you hit around 260 km/h before one of the hairiest first corners in the country. It's a great corner but touring cars tend to have quite a lot of understeer here so car setup is very important because you need to carry a lot of speed through this corner. You either have understeer on the way in or the way out; it's hard to get it right.

We brake and change down to fifth and stay in tight on the entry with your left wheels just about on the grass, then hit the gas once you're through the apex and you can see a bit of daylight. You brake at about the 200-metre board for turn two, and go back to second gear. This is a tricky, slow hairpin and I've found the best way to get 'round it is just to stay tight around the inside of the corner, which also protects against anyone trying to overtake you.

Exit in second, with a bit of wheelspin and oversteer, and grab third gear before the right-hand sweeper, which is pretty much flat-out and uphill. Into third then fourth as you curve down the hill. Back to third then try and hold a tight line and miss the big bump on the corner entry. If you don't hold a tight line here, you can't get back across to the right on the exit for next corner.

You can hit the limiter in third between this corner and the next left-hander. Touch the brakes, turn in and stay fairly tight. Grab fourth gear on the exit up over the hill and set the car up for the tricky right/left squiggle before Corporate Hill.

Back to third gear and exit using all the road, grab fourth before Corporate Hill and try and keep a tight line near the kerb. You try and let the car just float around there and keep it as flat as possible. You'll use a lot of road but there's not a lot you can do because of the weight of the car and the lack of grip on the exit.

Accelerate hard and try and keep the car straight. You don't want to get too far right because the next corner is a right-hand hairpin, so only use three-quarters of the road on the exit. Brake late, snatch second gear, turn in late taking care not to lock the front wheels - it's quite easy to pick up the front right. What you're looking for here is really good exit speed because you've got a long drag to the next corner.

You hit fifth gear and brake very late for next right/left sequence. Downshift into third as you turn in then use all the road on the exit as you accelerate hard on the exit. The car really squats here. Squeeze the brakes a tad then start the crucial long left that leads onto the pit straight. You grab fourth on the exit then pile on the speed snatching fourth, fifth and sixth.

The last corner is important but the corner before really sets you up for a good exit speed and how you get off this corner really determines your top speed on the straight.

Websites
For all your latest Caltex Havoline Racing news please log on to caltex.com.au or to stonebrothersracing.com.au. Your latest news on Wayne Gardner can also be found on waynegardner.com

-sbr-

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About this article
Series Supercars
Drivers David Besnard , Neil Crompton , Wayne Gardner , Cameron McConville , Mark Larkham , Paul Morris , Glenn Seton , Greg Ritter , Bob Jane , Phillip Island