WORDS: Jake Sparey
For once, this is a tough prediction. There are a lot of factors that are going to bring together the racing at Watkins Glen. What is presented in front of the drivers is a track that is draft-centric yet at the same time doesn’t offer any easy overtaking opportunities. The amazing run coming out of “The 90” and though to the Bus Stop almost needs an extra 400 metres straight to produce a clean passing zone. Outside of that, the final two corners are very tough to complete a move successfully, it will take a combination of precision and bravery to get moves done.
Another factor is going to be the Safety Car. The last time this event was a 250km race, there were no less than eight Safety Cars, which led to Jake Burton’s first (and only) solo win. Strategy is going to be a major factor around a place where a multi car pile-up can happen at a moment’s notice and there aren’t many places for cars to funnel out to. Track position, and more crucially qualifying position are the keys to the racing on Sunday.
If Dayne Warren shows up, he’s the favourite. He has been consistently the fastest on the timing sheets and he is starting to convert those times into results. Altus eSports have a bolstered roster with Cooper Webster becoming the second driver in the space of a month to defect from the Evolution Racing Team.
Fawzan El-Nabi and Harley Haber look like they could both fly the flag for United and make great headway in this event, however the favourite for me goes into the hands of Madison Down. He looked brilliant a year ago against Jarrad Filsell and only lost a win due to last-lap contact, for which he was blameless. Without Filsell there, I reckon a big result could come and Madison has the potential to finally put a win on the board for the season. With the team seemingly stagnant around him in terms of development, there needs to be some fresh life to give morale a boost at Trans Tasman; a win being of utmost importance.
Keep a close eye on Andrew Gilliam at Pursuit too. Every race he is getting closer and closer to the front and that maiden race win cannot be far away. If Gilliam somehow does not find a win this year, then I will be incredibly surprised and will be looking with a lot of bemusement at the string of occasions where it would have been possible.
This track has proven to be one of the tougher events to grind out a result year after year, almost resembling the nature and characteristics of a classic Supercars street circuit such as Newcastle.
Virtual Racing School V8SCOPS – points after Round 5
- James Scott – 1,994
- Wayne Bourke – 1,745
- Harley Haber – 1,700
- Fawzan El-Nabi – 1,679
- Michael Talijancich – 1,639
- Thomas Hinss – 1,622
- Jordan Ross – 1,558
- Adam Briggs – 1,528
- Andrew Gilliam – 1,526
- Tom Freer – 1,511