Supercars: Jamie Whincup, Craig Lowndes believe Newcastle 500 track modification will deliver more action for fans

CHECK: Supercars legend Craig Lowndes with event manager Kurt Sakzewski and Jamie Whincup at the hairpin last Friday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
CHECK: Supercars legend Craig Lowndes with event manager Kurt Sakzewski and Jamie Whincup at the hairpin last Friday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Supercars has unveiled a track modification ahead of this weekend's Newcastle 500, one which driver Jamie Whincup believes will bring more passing opportunities and ultimately - more action.

With the third incarnation of the Newcastle 500 just days away, Winchup and his enduro races co-driver Craig Lowndes visited the track last Friday to assess the changes.

The hairpin at Nobbys has been stretched further towards Horseshoe beach to create a tighter turn.

"We actually changed the alignment at turn 11, otherwise known as the hairpin," event manager Kurt Sakzewski said.

"We've straightened up the entry to the corner, made it a little bit longer than it was before and in actual fact the track itself will be 12 metres longer than it was before."

One of only three drivers to have officially won a race in Newcastle, Whincup - who claimed his seventh drivers' championship on the track in 2017 - said the modification had been in the works since the inaugural event.

"We're always looking for improvements, we're always looking at ways to make the track more enjoyable to drive on, plus for more passing opportunities," he said.

"I think the change down here at turn 11 is exactly that. We've been talking bout it for a couple of years.

"Extending the corner means the braking zone is a little bit later, you're a little bit straighter before you actually turn into the corner, which will open up another passing opportunity and make the racing more exciting than it already is."

ACTION: The Nobbys hairpin is popular with race fans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

ACTION: The Nobbys hairpin is popular with race fans. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Whincup said with more passing opportunities there could be more carnage - not that he thought the Newcastle circuit needed it.

"Can there be more action here?" the Red Bull Holden Racing driver joked. "The last couple of years it's been out of control; with car strategies, accidents - we hate accidents in team-land - but no doubt a hundred thousand people sitting on the outside don't mind an accident here or there.

"There's been so much up for grabs, the race has been fantastic, but why not make it better? And I think the change here at turn 11 can make it better."

Whincup and Lowndes claimed the Enduro Cup after winning both races at the Sandown 500 last weekend. It came after a race win and second place at the Gold Coast 600 and fourth-place finish in the Bathurst 1000.

Lowndes, who retired from full-time driving after last year's Newcastle 500, said the hairpin would "come alive" after the track changes.

"Any street circuit is always difficult to pass on," he said. "But having this, and luckily enough having the space to do this, is going to open up the corner more for those opportunities."

DISCUSSION: The trio walk the track on Friday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DISCUSSION: The trio walk the track on Friday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Lowndes admitted he missed full-time driving but said his work as a Fox Sports pundit covering Supercars had been an enjoyable "transition".

"It still nice to be involved," he said. "I've really enjoyed being part of the enduro campaign with Jamie.

"We were lucky enough to win the Pirtek Enduro Cup, which is something that as a co-driver that's really important because it's a part of the year that is not only massive for points for Jamie and the main drivers, but it shows that the co-driver has actually done their job."

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