One of the longest speedway races of the season is set to take place this Saturday at Perth Motorplex (February 20), with the Ampol Big Chap 57 running a 57-lap feature for the Maddington Toyota Sprintcar Series.
While the 900 horsepower Sprintcars are well known for their speed, they are not so impressive in their fuel efficiency. That means the Big Chap 57 race will require a fuel stop halfway through, before the final laps of the feature.
Fuel isn’t the only resource teams will need to manage, as tyre wear and driver fatigue all take their toll.
Highway Harley-Davidson team driver Andrew Priolo said that it was tough to bring much of a strategy to the endurance test. He said while being at the front of the field offers obvious advantages for track position, it also allows those teams to control the pace.
“I think it is very hard to make a real plan because there are so many factors that come into it,” he said. “The main focus will be to start up front and be able to have more control of the race pace and when to push and when to manage.
“I think (the impact of race fitness) is very dependent on track conditions and stoppages. All that we have been able to do is push ourselves hard so we can be as prepared as possible. I am always doing boxing, running and squash all through race season so I feel that is something we are always focused on, no matter how long the race is.”
Dayne Kingshott will be looking for another shot at his first race win for Krikke Motorsport after a heartbreaking last-lap crash while leading the feature race at the City of Kwinana Cup several weeks ago.
Like Priolo, he said the first half will be about management, while the second half becomes a standard feature.
“It will all depend on when the fuel stop is, but I guess if we can be in a decent position leading up to the red then it will be like a normal feature race,” he explained. “Fitness wise, I have been training hard since I got the call up for the drive, so if the car setup is ok it shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve been getting a lot of laps in so far this season, which helps with the race fitness as well.”
Callum Williamson currently sits third in the Maddington Toyota Sprintcar Series points. With plenty of success on the board so far this season, he is well aware of what it takes to win an ordinary 30-lapper. For 57 laps, he said it will pay to be light on the throttle pedal early.
“Our strategy will be to make it into the top six by half time, and then try to make the car a little easier to drive for the last half and try to win it from there,” he said.
“The race fitness will be fine for me, it’s more about keeping the car straight and the tyres (in good condition) under us. A lot of throttle control will make the car easier to drive and I won’t wear myself out as quick.”
The Ampol Big Chap 57 honours the late Sprintcar legend Noel Bradford, who is among a number of drivers being recognised on Saturday night as a Legend of Speedway. Late Models, Speedcars, Formula 500s, Limited Sprintcars and Solos will also be racing on the night.
Gates open from 4.30pm, with heats from 5.00pm and the main show from 6.00pm. For more information, visit www.motorplex.com.au
Words: Luke Niewuhof
Pics: Peter Roebuck