Tyre Talk : John Bowe
This month's TyreTalk comes from motorsport legend and Dunlop ambassador John Bowe, giving an insight into what we can expect AT the V8 Supercar Championship Series which starts at the Clipsal 500 on 21st February.
It's always this time of the year that you want to look into a crystal ball as no one really knows what has been done in the close season. HRT and Garth Tander are going to be very difficult to beat this season and it will certainly be interesting to see how Skaife deals with Tander in the team.
The FPR cars were as quick as any at the end of last year. I think this season we will see the emergence of Mark Winterbottom as a serious title contender.
Triple 8 will carry on from where they left off last year. They have very good resources in particular engineering resources. How they progress this season compared to last season will depend on their engineers.
After winning the last two Championships a lot of HSV staff have changed to HRT indicating that HRT are still Holden's priority. It will be extremely interesting to see how HSV finish - Rick Kelly is obviously a talented driver and should never be underestimated.
One thing we can be sure of is quality tyres. Since Dunlop won the contract there hasn't been one tyre related issue. From the heat of Darwin to the cold and wet of Winton, the tyres have always been a known factor and always dependable delivering more than you can possibly ask.
Clipsal 500 is a tremendous festival in the middle of the city. The atmosphere is great and other than Bathurst I would say it is the best spectacle. Being the first race, drivers approach the race with a certain amount of trepidation. It is usually very hot and the temperature in the car can reach 60ÂºC. It is massively debilitating for the drivers and there are lots of fumes from the fuel because of the concrete barriers. It's the toughest race we do and it's the first of the season.
In this race, Dunlop will be sponsoring Turn 8, entitled the Dunlop Sweeper. It's the most difficult corner in the country but hasn't always been as tricky. Four years ago the corner had a chicane and was a third gear corner but the decision was made to open the corner up into a sixth gear corner.
From a boring corner, it changed into one of the most challenging. With very few corners on the calendar taken in sixth, this is all the more challenging because it is combined with concrete barriers and no run off area meaning it's concrete wall or concrete wall.
You take the turn at 230 kilometres per hour with a very very minute stab on the brakes. It is daunting but the most challenging of corners are definitely the most enjoyable if you master them. The Dunlop Sweeper will definitely be the place to watch from at the Clipsal 500.