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NICK PERCAT MELBOURNE 400 PREVIEW

11 MARCH 2020
Hi everyone!

The next Supercars round at the Beaurepaires Melbourne 400 is a special one for me because I’ll rack up 200 race starts on the final race on Sunday. I feels like it’s gone so fast since my first race at Phillip Island back in 2010!

Along the way I’ve won the Bathurst 1000 and the Adelaide 500, which are probably two of the biggest events on the calendar. But it has only been in the last couple of years where I feel like I’ve really got going, and I’m grateful to have secured one of the 24 spots on the grid.

The Australian Grand Prix is always an interesting weekend, and it’s always quite challenging for drivers and engineers to get the most out of the car in limited track time. Two short practice sessions are all we have to get a read on the car’s balance, and to work out what we have and what we need ahead of qualifying.

This year we get a limited number of tyres in relation to the amount of racing. Each car is allocated four sets of soft Dunlop tyres to use across the four races. I anticipate that we’ll have to use one green set of tyres for each of the four qualifying sessions.  Each qualifying is only 10 minutes long, so that will effectively mean one big lap to get the job done!

My engineer and I are heading into the event with a more conservative set up approach on Car 8. We’re not taking with any development items to test, instead we’re just sticking to what we know works.

There will be a bit of strategy involved due to a compulsory pit stop for tyres in each race. The choice will be whether to start on a hard tyre and swap to a soft, or vice versa. It will also be a good battle between the pit crew to see who can get the tyre change done most efficiently. Traditionally BJR are very fast at pit stops (our crew won the Pirtek Pitstop Challenge last year) so I’ve definitely got the best crew in my corner!

Over the past two years the BJR cars have been really strong at Albert Park. As a team we’ve been on the podium there the last 2 years; I had two podium finishes in 2018 and Tim Slade has one last year. I’m hopeful we can continue that trend and have a car that’s strong enough to run into the top ten across all the races.

My main aim is to bank a good haul of points after some disappointment in Adelaide. We had a steering rack issue on the warm-up lap to Saturday’s race which cost us a lot of points. On Sunday we came away with a 7th place finish; a good result considering our car setup was far from ideal due to some teething issues with some development items in the car.

Overall, I don’t think we captured the car speed we had in Adelaide. I’m looking for a solid weekend at the AGP, and to steer clear of any drama and leave the event with a straight car to take to Tasmania.

Finally, keep an eye out for the bright yellow Dunlop Super Dealer livery on my car this weekend. From the feedback I get, it’s definitely a fan favourite and certainly stands out from the crowd!

Remember, you can follow me on social media for updates across the event.
 
Twitter- @nickpercat
Instagram - @nickpercat
 

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