Dane: The Bend may catch out top teams
The unique challenge of the The Bend Motorsport Park could catch out the top teams and pose a massive challenge for the entire Supercars grid at the OTR SuperSprint, according to Triple Eight boss Roland Dane.
South Australia’s new state-of-the-art $110 million facility is gearing up to host Supercars for the first time this weekend for what will be the venue’s biggest event to date since it opened at start of the year.
Dane has been highly impressed by the Sam Shahin owned track which is the first new permanent circuit in Australia for almost 20 years.
With teams armed with limited knowledge of the circuit that features a mixture of technical, fast and flowing corners, the Triple Eight boss reckons it could mix up the grid.
“We’re as keen as anyone to go there and are looking forward to it,” Dane told Speedcafe.com.
“It’s almost 20 years since the last new, permanent circuit came on track, and this is not only a new venue, but it’s a world class venue that people in Europe have asked me about.
“I doubt any of the drivers will really be maximising their potential there until Saturday probably, because it’s a circuit where there is a bit more to it in terms of how the corners flow into each other.
“For instance a top driver will learn Sandown pretty much in half a dozen laps, because the corners are more or less stand alone, whereas at Tailem Bend there’s definitely going to be a flow to them a bit like there was in Texas to be honest when we first went there (in 2013).
“You never know what these different situations will throw up initially.
“It could throw up a few different outcomes. There will be a certain element of newness about it all, so it could catch us out.”
Triple Eight’s reigning Supercars champion Jamie Whincup has echoed the sentiments from his team boss.
Whincup, who is an ambassador for the circuit, has driven the track in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 car in April but is among the majority of the Supercars field yet to race on the 4.95km International layout.
While a host of drivers cut laps during a OTR SuperSprint support category test last Thursday, Whincup visited the circuit after the Sydney SuperNight 300 to conduct a bit of reconnaissance.
The 35-year-old believes the Supercars grid will face a massive challenge to conquer the new circuit.
“This is a very European style circuit. Sam and his brother went all over the world and checked out a lot of racing circuits and worked out all the good corners at each track and they have come up with a great design,” Whincup told Speedcafe.com.
“There is so much variation, it is so difficult.
“It is going to be a massive challenge for all of us and once again because of the variation of lines it will offer good racing.
“Shane van Gisbergen and David Reynolds did the GT race down there so they will have a little bit of an advantage.
“For the rest of us we have the a rare challenge of trying to go fast at a brand new track. We will be finding seconds as the weekend goes on and normally we will be finding tenths.
“In qualifying trying to get all the corners right is going to be tough.”
The OTR SuperSprint will begin on Friday with opening practice scheduled for 1045 local time.