FAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS FOR ALEX DAVISON AT SANDOWN IRWIN Racing's Alex Davison heads to a track he has plenty of experience on when the V8 Supercar Championship Series arrives at Sandown International Motor Raceway for the Norton 360 Challenge...
FAMILIAR SURROUNDINGS FOR ALEX DAVISON AT SANDOWN
IRWIN Racing's Alex Davison heads to a track he has plenty of experience on when the V8 Supercar Championship Series arrives at Sandown International Motor Raceway for the Norton 360 Challenge from 31 July 2 August.
Davison has four V8 Supercar round starts, plus experience in other categories at Sandown, and is confident of showing the continued improvement in the IRWIN Racing team in his home town.
With a second placing to his credit three races ago in Darwin, Davison was brought back to earth at the most recent round at Townsville when he failed to finish both races due to steering rack failure. Extensive work by the Stone Brothers Racing crew, led by co-Team Principal Jimmy Stone, has identified the issue and upgrades to the IRWIN Ford have been made ahead of the trip south to Melbourne.
Sandown will see the return of the softer Dunlop Sprint tyre. To be used just once over the course of the weekend's two races, choosing the right time to use the tyre will once again play a crucial role in the final results. The IRWIN Racing team made best use of the softer tyre in the Sunday race in Darwin, when Davison claimed second place. On that day Davison also enjoyed his best qualifying performance of the season when he started 10th.
Qualifying will once be critical at Sandown; a track that is known to be hard to pass on, plus it does not have the same high-level of tyre wear like what was experienced in Darwin and Townsville.
Due to his non-finish in both races in Townsville, Davison is outside the top half in the championship standings. On the plus side he will take part in an extra practice session on Friday and the IRWIN Racing team is keen to make full use of that track time.
WHAT ALEX DAVISON HAS TO SAY:
"I have raced at Sandown a few times when it was the endurance round. It takes the pressure off a little bit going to a track I'm familiar with in a V8 Supercar. The IRWIN Racing team is outside the top 50% in the championship, which gives us that extra practice session and we are aiming to make the best use of that to set ourselves up for the weekend. Despite the fact that we failed to finish in Townsville, we set the fourth fastest time in the first race, with an average lap time putting us in the top 3. Our overall race pace of late has been very good; in Darwin we were very competitive on the standard tyre and were actually the fastest on the sprint tyre. We really need to show that same type of pace in qualifying, especially at Sandown which is quite hard to pass on. Importantly our improvement has come in race conditions, so that shows we are continually improving the car and the group as a whole. The IRWIN Racing team has worked extremely hard to rectify the steering rack problems we suffered in Townsville and I know that it will not be an issue for us at Sandown. We expect it to be very cold at Sandown and this will assist in the tyre life. We don't expect the sprint tyre to last as long as what occurred in Tasmania, when the rubber was not punished all that much, but it will have a longer life than a heavy wearing track such as Darwin."
WHAT IRWIN RACING ENGINEER WES McDOUGALL HAS TO SAY:
"We got to the bottom of the steering rack issue from Townsville and have introduced some updates that have us confident it will not be a problem at Sandown. Sandown has its own characteristics with short 90-degree corners and very long straights. This means getting out of the corners and onto the throttle as early as possible is the main requirement to getting around Sandown quickly. It terms of tyre wear we consider it pretty much normal, although with just about every corner being a left hander, the right side tyres do get a lot more wear. You expect those who qualify on the first three rows on Saturday will run the soft tyre. Then depending on pit stop strategy you could have them available for one of the stints on Sunday as well. The fact remains that you have to manage your tyre bank for the entire weekend. There have been some guys recently who have qualified very well on Saturday, but have used all their brand new tyres in the process. This has left them with few options for Sunday. After not finishing in either race in Townsville, the IRWIN Racing team does have a good bank of used tyres to use in Friday's practice sessions. That is something we didn't have at our disposal in the recent past, plus Alex does has plenty of experience of racing V8s at Sandown."