Driving Standards Advisor Craig Baird says he will take a liberal approach to policing track limits on the West Circuit this weekend at The Bend Motorsport Park.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship will for the first time use the 3.4km configuration at the Tailem Bend circuit in the OTR SuperSprint.
Of particular interest for the second event in the double-header is the double-right Turn 6 and Turn 7 section.
Turn 6, which is usually an open left-hand hairpin on the 4.9km long International Circuit, is now an acute right-hander.
Turn 7 rejoins on the short chute between what is normally Turn 13 and Turn 14 on the International Circuit.
Part of the move is designed to create an overtaking opportunity, but has also been made in part due to the absence of a timing loop.
As a result, Baird said policing track limits on entry to Turn 6 would be almost impossible.
Speaking with Speedcafe.com, Baird said he’ll take a Circuit of The Americas-style approach to policing track limits.
With expanses of asphalt on entry to Turn 6, drivers will be allowed to open the radius of the corner by crossing at least two wheels over the white line on approach.
Drivers will also be allowed to cross the Turn 6 exit kerb to open up the entry of Turn 7.
In consultation with circuit owner Sam Shahin, concrete has been added between Turn 6 and Turn 7 to avoid drivers digging holes in the dirt.
“We’re allowed a lot more road on the entry of Turn 6. So what the curve between the two looks like, we’ll just see,” said Baird.
“The pole quali lap, I think they’ll have two over it, but whether they have four outside it I don’t know.
“We don’t have track timing loops in there so we just have to wait and see. Sometimes it’s just better to not police something you can’t police.
“Unless I was sitting there for every lap of every car of every race, I think it’s a little bit difficult.”
Baird was optimistic the change in circuit configuration and lack of track limits policing at those two turns would be beneficial for the racing.
The former full-time Supercars driver said he will review the track limits after Practice 1 and advise teams of any possible changes.
With Supercars having not raced at the circuit previously, Baird is taking a wait-and-see approach and may make changes if he deems them necessary.
Baird expects drivers will have to experiment with lines on approach to Turn 6 to find the fastest way through the corner.
“We’ll give them some flexibility on the way in so as you can take the really wide line and take a late turn in,” said Baird.
“We’ll just let them go, they’re big boys. We’ll see where they end up. up if they’re taking the piss and chopping the entry of Turn 7, there’s a kink there, and we’ve put concrete in so I think that’s enough to make the perfect level between six and seven.
“We’re just going to let them go in and make it wide and a good passing opportunity,” he added.
“As you’ll see, we’ve added extra concrete in for the weekend (pictured below); we did that with Sam (Shahin).
“The track limits in the middle between the exit of Turn 6 and entry of Turn 7, we’re just going to have a look and see what the shape of it looks like.
“We’ve never run there. There is a kerb in the middle. We’ll use it, but whether we use all four (wheels) over I’m not too sure.
“I think the best thing to say is let’s just see what it looks like and what the line is now.”
Having driven the circuit himself, Baird said drivers may be surprised by what line works best when they get on track.
He believes they will soon find the limits of how fast they can take the corner with the dirt run-off on exit effectively self penalising.
“It looks – when you walk it – like you could use a massive amount (of road),” said Baird.
“But when I’ve taken some other drivers around there – and I’ve done a lot of laps around there in a Porsche GT2 – yeah, we use it, but not a much as it looks like you could.
“To get a perfect arc, to use too much of it, it mucks the entry up to Turn 7 because you’re too wide. We’ll just see what it looks like and let it play out and take it from there.”
OTR SuperSprint The Bend takes place on September 26-27.