The Gold Coast 600… it’s the Gold Coast’s biggest party, when the ‘glitter strip’ is better known for supercars rather than surfers.
The roar of the ocean is drowned out by the roar of engines as drivers race in two 300km races to win the coveted surfboard trophy – sometimes the major drawcard for drivers competing in this event.
But forget the surfboards for a moment… The crew behind the drivers have some bigger things to worry about in the week leading up to the GC600.
And that’s the large task of turning the cars around from a high speed Bathurst car to a Gold Coast street car.
“We have a short turnaround but it’s the same for everyone,” Red Bull Holden Racing Team’s Mark “Dutto” Dutton said.
“You’ve got to revert from a Bathurst car where it’s stiff and it’s all about high speed, to the Gold Coast car which is about the high kerbs.”
Alongside the disassemble, right down to the nuts and bolts, there’s way more to think about when setting up a GC600 car.
“All cars are stripped back following the race, but in this turnaround, we have a bigger job on our hands,” Dutto said.
“We’re going from the open roads of Bathurst to the tight concrete canyon of the GC.
“It’s quite a different setup and there’s probably more of a change setup-wise from Bathurst to Gold Coast than there is from any track.”
You would think prep like that was enough to worry about… Try keeping the drivers’ eyes on a road surrounded by the beach and all those other trackside distractions…
“Street circuits are great, they offer extra distraction so you have to take that into account,” Dutto said.
“That said, we do have professionals so we’re not worried about that.”
Hmm… Did you hear that Shane? Eyes on the road 😉
“The thing about this track is that there is no room for error – you’re riding the kerbs with some pretty tricky chicanes there to maximise and still be within the rules.
“That’s in contrast to Bathurst where, apart from going down the hill, most places have a good run off.
“At the Gold Coast, it’s mostly concrete walls that you’ll be going into so it’s very high risk.”
So after what we saw at Bathurst with Shane’s passing efforts, we’re ready for a big one from the boys!
With forecast temps in the mid-20s we’re looking at a hot weekend on the track, but that’s what it’s all about when you’re on the GC.
“If it’s a hot weekend then everything is running hot, from the crew to the drivers and the engines,” Dutto said.
“Every component in the car is hot and you try to maximise those as best you can.
“Sometimes that equates to what can be seen as a setup compromise to cater for the heat,
“But that said, if you cater for it better than in the long run, over race distance, it’s not a compromise, it’s actually an advantage.”
And the reason why we don’t want any rain? Apart from saving us some embarrassment from getting the old squeegee out…
“There’s heaps of walls and the chance of hitting them will go through the roof if it’s wet.”
Ya reckon, Dutto?!
“You just want everyone out in the sun, having a good time.”
Here here. We’re ready for a good time!