V8 early bird gets the desert worm

Tony D'Alberto at the Winton test last Monday

Tony D'Alberto at the Winton test last Monday

All of the V8 Supercar drivers head off to Abu Dhabi tonight – except two.

Victorians Mark Winterbottom and Tony D’Alberto have decided to go early for a chance to make sure they’re acclimatised and revitalised for the opening round of the V8 Supercars Championship Series.

Winterbottom left for the Middle East on Saturday, while D’Alberto flew out of Melbourne last night.

D’Alberto told Speedcafe.com.au that he wanted to have an extra day in the desert to bank some sight-seeing around the Yas Marina Circuit – a track that no V8 Supercar driver has ever raced on.

“I’ve flown over early so that it will give me another day to have a bit more of a look at the track,” he said.

“I’ll do some laps in the hire car, go for a bit of a walk, and probably do that a couple of times the day that I’m there before the rest of the drivers come over.

“But if I feel as though I’m on top of it, there’s no point going around the track 1000 times and wearing yourself out.

“I watched the Formula 1 race with a lot of interest and recently I got a little bit of footage of a Porsche driving around the circuit. That’s given me a little bit better idea of where it goes.

“It’s difficult, because at most tracks, you can just drive down the road and check out the track, like we did at Homebush. I went to Homebush twice before I even stepped in a race car.”

D’Alberto, the driver of the #3 Centaur Racing Commodore VE, said that all the laps in the world on foot or in a hire car counts for little when the V8 Supercars hit the track.

“I’ve pretty much got the track in my head now. It’s just trying to study the cambers, looking at how much grip is available and how you attack the circuit, but you won’t really find all that out until you hit the track in anger for the first time,” he said.

“The real test is when you get out there in the race car. At Homesbush, you could do as many laps before the race as you like, but again, until you got in the car, you don’t really have much of an idea of what it’s going to be like.”

The first official V8 Supercars practice session for 2010 starts this Thursday at 2.20pm Middle Eastern time (9.20pm AEST). Four practice sessions will be held that day.

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