Heading across the Tasman Sea for its lone international event of 2017, Prodrive Racing (Australia) travels to New Zealand with plenty to gain as the Supercars season nears its conclusion. Having displayed leading pace in the previous three events - which included a pair of race wins and claiming the Pirtek Enduro Cup - PRA look to add to its tally of five race wins at Pukekohe Park this weekend at the Auckland SuperSprint.
The Campbellfield-based outfit has won at least one race at Pukekohe each year since Supercars returned to the 2.91-kilometre circuit in 2013, with Mark Winterbottom (#5 The Bottle-O FG X) taking the chequered flag three times, most recently in Race 3 in 2016.
Cameron Waters (#6 Monster Energy FG X) and Chaz Mostert (#55 Supercheap Auto FG X) have yet to win at Pukekohe, but having both tasted victory in the past six weeks, and Mostert having climbed back into championship contention, all Prodrive Racing entries have high expectations heading into the penultimate round of the 2017 season.
#5 The Bottle-O PRA Ford
“Pukekohe's one of my favourite tracks of the season. It's a fast track and should be even faster this year assuming the portions that have been resurfaced are as smooth as we expect them to be. The track has some good passing opportunities and will really work the tyres, but it should be a fun weekend. We finally had a good, clean race on Sunday at the Gold Coast, so hopefully we can continue that this weekend. I've had some good runs there in the past, so I'm looking forward to running up front."
#6 Monster Energy PRA Ford
“I’m a lot more confident going into New Zealand than I was last year. We’ve come a long way in 12 months and we’ve had really good form over the Enduros. I had a lot of fun sharing the car with Richie, but it’s nice to have the car back now, and I’m really excited to get to New Zealand and see where we are. The team is getting better each round. We’ll. keep chipping away at it, that’s the plan. If we can get a little closer to the front or win a few more races it’ll help us next year when we come out swinging. That’s the plan: go there, get more good results, and keep building on what we’ve already done this year.”
#55 Supercheap Auto PRA Ford
“New Zealand’s always a good one. To go over the seas there, over the ditch. Obviously the Kiwi drivers have their hometown advantage, home ground advantage, and us Aussies like to go over there and try to stir it up. I’m looking forward to it, it’s a nice, fast, flowing track. It’s very bumpy, has a lot of character. I love going there, so we’ll see how we go.”
“Getting down to the end of the year, each race and each weekend gets more important. It will be a different challenge this weekend with some of the resurfacing, but we’ve been very quick lately and should be the same this weekend as well. At this point Chaz is our only threat for the championship, but we expect to have four cars that can be a threat for race wins. We’ll head over there and see if we can bring back some more trophies.”
EVENT NAME: ITM Auckland SuperSprint
DATE: November 3-5
LOCATION: Pukekohe Park Raceway, New Zealand
EVENT NUMBER: 13 of 14
FORMAT: Friday – 2 x 40-min practice;
Saturday – 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x 70-lap race;
Sunday – 1 x 20-min qualifying, 1 x 70-lap race
CIRCUIT: Pukekohe Park Raceway
DESCRIPTION: Pukekohe, like Sandown, is designed around a horse racing track and is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance. The extremely-fast layout has undergone major changes and while it has been tempered slightly with three new turns at the end of the long back straight, it is still a very fast layout. Tyre preservation is a key to success at Pukekohe.
TRACK RECORD: 1m02.22s, Shane van Gisbergen (2016)
PRA BEST RESULT: 1st – Will Davison (2013, Race 3), Mark Winterbottom (2014, Races 2 & 4), David Reynolds (2015, Race 2), Mark Winterbottom (2016, Race 3)