Skaife: Conditions will throw race wide-open
Six-time and reigning Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner Mark Skaife believes that today’s race will be thrown wide-open by the predicted changeable weather conditions.
While the entries of Craig Lowndes/Mark Skaife and Jamie Whincup/Andrew Thompson entered the weekend heavily favoured to extend TeamVodafone’s Bathurst record to five wins in six years, the weather has played havoc with race week preparations.
Six of the eight V8 Supercars sessions held at Mount Panorama in the lead-up to Sunday have been effected by wet weather, with Practice 3 on Thursday having been abandoned altogether.
More inclement weather has been predicted for Bathurst today (see forecast on this page), which will place a premium on each team’s ability to choose the right strategy and car set-up for the conditions.
Although several adjustments can be made within the cockpit (anti-rollbar settings and brake bias) and in pitstops (tyre pressures, rear roll-centre and potentially shock-absorber settings), Skaife says that finding the right pre-race compromise on non-adjustable set-up parameters could pay dividends for an unfancied entry.
“I haven’t seen in 25 years the sort of changeable conditions that we’ve had (this week),” said Skaife.
“To basically have a day of complete wet weather (on Thursday) was extraordinary. It’s limited the amount of quality running that everybody has done.
“Our car is basically the same as we had it last year, so we can be confident that it will be reasonably good, but at the same time it probably throws up some combinations by chance.
“If you pick a dry car set-up and it rains through the day you’ll struggle, and if you pick a wet car and it’s dry through the day you’ll struggle.
“So if you can find an intermediate style set-up that will work through the day that both drivers like, then you might get a couple of guys that pop to the top. I think it’ll be a very interesting race based on that.”
Due to a relative scarcity of wet tyres at the venue, each entry was allocated just four sets of the grooved rubber to use in qualifying and the race.
Although changeable conditions will likely be the worst in which to conserve wet tyres, Skaife believes that being limited to four sets of wets won’t be a problem.
“Because the wet tyre is a very hard (compound) tyre, I’m not worried about running out of tyres – I think that’ll be fine,” said Skaife.
“The big one that showed in the Top 10 is that even if it rains spasmodically you have to come in, because you can’t get away with running around on slicks (in the wet).
“The risk management will say that you’ll either have an accident yourself or be involved in someone else’s that will put you out of the event (if you try and stay out in the wet on slicks). So you’ll have to be very conservative as to how you approach that.”
Mark Skaife is expected to be behind the wheel of the #888 TeamVodafone Commodore when the 2011 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 kicks-off at 1030 local time.
CLICK HERE for the full grid order
See below for today’s weather forecast.
See below for TeamVodafone’s video review of its day at Mount Panorama yesterday.
See below for Speedcafe.com’s Bathurst Race Guide
The Japanese Grand Prix will also take place this afternoon. See below for Speedcafe.com’s Suzuka Race Guide