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McLaughlin, Whincup anticipating new West Circuit challenges

Simon Chapman

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Monday 21st September, 2020 - 6:00am

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Supercars will race at The Bend for a second straight weekend

Jamie Whincup and Scott McLaughlin say a shift from the International configuration to the West layout at The Bend will be a new challenge for the Supercars field.

The West Circuit cuts out the high-load Turn 7 to Turn 12, which caused tyre troubles for much of the field at the Repco Supersprint.

Instead of turning left at what is Turn 6 on the International Circuit, the cars will go straight before an acute right-hander.

After Turn 6, the cars will then rejoin at the short shoot between what is normally Turn 13 and Turn 14 on the International configuration – and what will be Turn 7 on the West Circuit.

Totally 3.4km, the West Circuit is 1.4km shorter than the 4.9km long International Circuit.

While the lion’s share of the circuit remains, the removal of the successive high-load corners from Turn 7 to 12 means the West Circuit will require a different approach to car set-up.

Supercars points leader Scott McLaughlin said the circuit will take on a new guise with more emphasis on a stop-and-go set-up rather than a car suited for the fast and flowing corner.

“I think a lot of the circuit that we have now is a big flow and that sort of stuff is going to be taken out the track,” said McLaughlin.

“It’s now going to be three or four big stops with a couple of corners that flow on with all that sort of stuff so set-up-wise you’re going to have to change a little bit.

“But we’re there or thereabouts with our set-up on the main track, so it’s just a matter of tuning it up for two corners.”

Shell V-Power Racing Team stable-mate Fabian Coulthard echoed McLaughlin’s sentiment.

However, the 38-year-old suggested existing car set-up would be applicable from the International to the West configuration.

“I think some of the set-up will work,” said Coulthard.

“And then obviously we just have to adjust for a little bit for the other two corners so I think it’s a little bit of trial and error.

“I guess we will have to adapt to that part of the circuit and see what it’s like and see how it evolves I guess over the time.

“Because it doesn’t look like, from what I’ve seen already, it (doesn’t get) much running.

“Obviously we have a lot of running on this part of the circuit this weekend so we’ll see how the rubber takes to that and how it evolves over time.”

Whincup, who lies 215 points adrift in the drivers’ championship, has already once driven on the West Circuit.

The Red Bull Holden Racing Team driver said tyre wear woes seen throughout the first SuperSprint event at The Bend may not be so prominent.

“We used it (the West Circuit) on a ride day here last year and it could create another passing opportunity, not that Turn 6 isn’t a passing opportunity at the moment but it could be an opportunity down the inside of what will be the new Turn 6,” Whincup explained.

“It’s a good track but that long Sector 5 (is) really hard on the left rear. That’s been taken out of it so it will be a different circuit, new challenges to go fast.

“We’ll wait and see but it’ll rubber in, it’s another hairpin, so it’s all part of the engineering game.”

The OTR SuperSprint, the second event in the double-header at The Bend Motorsport Park, will take place on September 26-27.

The Bend Motorsport Park in its International configuration

The Bend Motorsport Park in its West (top) and East (bottom) configurations

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