Stanaway: Night racing could level the playing field
Richie Stanaway believes the concept of night racing has the ability to level the playing field and mix up the natural order at this weekend’s Red Rooster Sydney SuperNight 300.
Supercars will race under lights for the first time on Australian shores for 21 years courtesy of a new racing format being introduced at Sydney Motorsport Park.
It is anticipated the added variables attached to night racing will provide a whole range of new challenges for teams and drivers to overcome during a 300km race, that offers the most points per kilometre this year.
Only 13 of the current crop of drivers contested Supercars’ last night race in Abu Dhabi in 2011, meaning the event will be a new experience for many of the grid.
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Stanaway is among a group of drivers that boasts plenty of night racing experience having encountered the discipline earlier in his career when driving for the factory Aston Martin GT squad.
After a challenging rookie year in Supercars, he is hopeful the conditions will provide an open race as the field battles to master racing at night.
“Ultimately there is always going to be the hierarchy of results based on the car performance but I think it does throw a little bit of a spanner in the works,” Stanaway told Speedcafe.com.
“The results might be a little bit mixed up depending on which team or driver capitalises on the variables. It should make for an interesting race.”
Despite having raced through the night at the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours on three occasions, the 26-year-old believes his experience won’t count for too much this weekend.
“When I first started night racing in 2013 it was initially a little hard to adapt, but I have a decent amount of night racing experience,” he said.
“It all depends on how well the circuit is lit.
“If it is fairly floodlit then I don’t think it will really matter, it just depends on the level of lighting.
“At the same time you can never underestimate the drivers in this championship all of them have got so much talent, I’m sure it won’t take them long to adapt.
“Racing at night gives you a different sensation of speed because you are taking in a lot less visual information and with fewer reference points naturally you get that higher realisation of speed.
“Things like car placement, braking points and racing lines can be a little hard to nail down with that lack of visual stimulus.
“It can be a little bit overwhelming at first but I’m sure the drivers will get on top of this.
“As much as I’m hoping it will give me an advantage I’m not going to count on it too much.”
After a difficult campaign to date that has yielded a solitary top 10 finish, Stanaway showed glimpses of speed last time out at Queensland Raceway.
His side of the garage has adopted a set-up direction similar to that of team-mate Chaz Mostert which is beginning to prove fruitful.
This weekend will also see the Kiwi return to a venue where has previously raced at Supercar courtesy of a one-off Super2 drive last year, which he is keen to take advantage of.
“I think that Super2 race of last year is really going to pay dividends with the way the format is (this weekend),” he added.
“If I had not driven a Supercar there and not had done the rounds earlier this year then I think I would have been in a lot of trouble this weekend. I don’t have to worry about learning circuit.
“It is not the fact that I’m a slow learner and it takes me a long time to learn a track.
“I can get my head around it in the first practice but often there is a tenth or two that can cover 10th place to 20th.
“If I am at a round where I have not raced a Supercar before then I do miss those minor little details that you can only get through experience.”
The Sydney SuperNight 300 is due to begin on Friday with opening practice scheduled for 1800 AEST.