Clipsal 500 2012 – The V8 Supercars

As much as some of us would like to think otherwise, the main drawcard of the Clipsal 500 is obviously the V8 Supercars. And in a lot of respects we’re quite privileged here in Adelaide – we have the first race of the season which is arguably the biggest of the whole year and we have a city that completely embraces the race that runs through it’s CBD streets. I’ll avoid giving a blow-by-blow account of the V8 races and results at the Clipsal (this can be found anywhere really and it’s interest is arguable), but will rather just give a quick overview of a few of the things I noticed around the pits.

All of the V8’s were carrying specific Clipsal 500 branding on the front doors for the first time. I wonder if they’ll take a page from the rally world’s book and have a different door sticker for each event?

While we’re looking at Triple Eight Race Engineering Commodore, I found the paint scheme to be quite amazing. Here and from most angles it just looks like Vodofone’s signature dayglo orange…

… but get it in the sunlight and it’s actually a pearl metallic paint. And it is actually paint too – almost all of the cars in the field have a full digitally printed vinyl wrap these days.

Except of course, the two Tekno Autosport entries which were running plain white liveries with almost no sponsor stickers. Obviously not very good for the teams bottom line but I thought it was great – on Saturday’s race Jonathan Webb was running as high as 5th in a completely plain car. Sadly Webb’s car was badly damaged in a Sunday morning qualifying accident with Greg Murphy.

Check out the neat little aluminium fuel rail and accelerator cable bracket on the Dick Johnson Falcon’s!

Luckily the temperature was quite pleasant this year, but Clipsal has the potential to get extremely hot. To combat the heat, drivers wear a cool suit which pumps water through a chilled ice box next to the seat, and then through a special shirt laced with plastic tubing. After a few hours of 50+deg cabin temperatures the ice tends to melt, so for this year teams are combating that by using dry ice to cool the water instead. The Garry Rodgers Motorsport Commodore’s had these neat dry ice refuelers in the passenger window so that the dry ice can be topped up during a pit stop.

The shock announcement in the days leading up to the Clipsal was Nissan’s confirmed entry in next years championship. As has been the case previously, the V8 Supercar Safety Car was once again a Nissan R35 GTR.

I thought the Holden Racing Team’s livery really stood out this year, and I’m a definite fan. I think the bronze wheels and highlights work well with the black and red elements of the rest of the livery.

Although it didn’t look quite so good after a high speed excursion into the Turn 8 wall. This photo was taken on Saturday night, and by Sunday morning the team had the car back looking just the way it did before the accident. Amazing.

These fast cars are designed to be taken apart and rebuilt quickly. Look how that entire rear cradle/diff/drive shafts/hubs and anti roll bar assembly all comes out as one unit. Note how the rear brake lines are still connected to the assembly – they must have quick clip fittings on them to allow the whole assembly to be quickly swapped.

Not everyone in the Holden Racing Team has a glamourous job.

There were several teams rebuilding the left hand sides of their cars on Saturday night after altercations with the Turn 8 wall.

Look inside the front left wheelarch, and you can see just how extensive a modern V8 Supercar roll cage actually is.

The engine bays can be quickly stripped. Note the quick fit Speedflow fittings running from the engine bay to other parts of the car.

A few of the cars had these television cameras integrated into their headlights and taillights. You can just make out a clear strip of plastic trailing off out of the camera around towards the front wheel. A little electric motor winds the tape past the front of the lens to ensure it’s always clean and bug free.

V8 Supercars also showed demonstration laps of the new ‘Car Of The Future’. Essentially this is the next step toward V8 Supercar parity – a control chassis. The cars start with a roll cage structure, to which body panels and the rest of the car are bolted too. Major changes are that the location of the engine moves further back and down, the fuel tank moves from the boot to within the main crash structure and the gearbox is now located in a transverse fashion.

The two main upshots are that they say the cost of building a V8 Supercar will be approximately halved, and it paves the way for any other manufacturers (ie Nissan or Chrysler) to put their own V8 engine in the control chassis and go V8 Supercar racing. Is it a good thing? I think so. You can read more about COTF here.

The Sunday race went down in history as the fastest ever Clipsal 500 race – there were zero accidents, and zero safety car periods.

Well there you have it – V8 Supercar racing. The 2013 Clipsal 500 should actually be pretty interesting. First year of COTF, first year of Nissan’s involvement (I just want the driver who wins their first race to call the crowd a pack of arseholes for historical reasons) and more importantly, I hear the rumour that they’re trying to get more international support races to grow the event. Something like European F3 or Formula Renault? Just sayin’…

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