Shell V-Power Racing drivers Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard have opted to log virtual laps to prepare for this weekend’s maiden Supercars visit to The Bend Motorsport Park.
The addition of the 4.95km South Australian circuit to the calendar sees drivers and teams face the rare situation of having extremely limited knowledge of a new permanent facility heading into the round.
Drivers have studied limited vision of onboard laps while some have been lucky enough to race the circuit at the Shannons Nationals Meeting in April or log laps at last week’s OTR Super Sprint support category test.
However, DJR Team Penske has based its preparations for Supercars’ newest circuit around its in-house Simworx simulator program installed at its Queensland workshop.
Championship leader McLaughlin and Coulthard have been been making use of a virtual re-creation of the 18 turn track to get ready for the trip to Tailem Bend.
“That (the simulator) is what we have been working on to date and it is a very similar approach we took up in the lead up to Newcastle (last year),” managing director Ryan Story told Speedcafe.com.
“Simulators are a learning tool and one that can aid both drivers and engineers.
“I think the overall simulator project for us is still in its early stages but we are already seeing it bear fruit as a consequence of integrating it and incorporating it into our processes and structures.
“It’s all about doing the best you can to familiarise the drivers with the track.
“We can effectively make changes to the car specifically to see if the drivers can feel it even in the simulator, and that they’re describing it and talking about it the same way.
“And that’s a tool that we’ll continue to improve and we’re very fortunate to have simulators onboard that we can do that.”
While the team has taken a slightly different approach to others in the build up to The Bend, Story believes his squad is as prepared as it can be.
“There are others who are more familiar with it having sone some running at the test and at the Shannons Nationals event earlier in the year,” added Story.
“But that might not necessarily translate directly to a modern day Supercar but the familiarity with the track would be helpful.
“I think we are as prepared as we can be going to a new venue.”
The Supercars field will experience the circuit in contemporary machinery for the first time on Friday when the OTR SuperSprint begins with opening practice scheduled for 1045 local time.