Preview: Gold Coast 600

Renowned for chaos, carnage and raucous celebrations, Surfers Paradise has been the scene of some of the most memorable moments in V8 Supercars history.

There’s the sun, the sand, the city and the surf that make the Gold Coast 600 atmosphere electric. There are the 640 brake horsepower engines that bring it to life and then there’s the 3km of cement barriers that give the climax of the Pirtek Enduro Cup its finishing touches.

If we had to describe the Gold Coast 600 in one word? Pandemonium – in the most flattering sense of the term.

“It’s the concrete canyon,” laughs Mark Dutton, the engineer looking to guide J-Dub to his seventh Gold Coast victory.

“It’s hot, there are lots of blind corners, it’s a tough track, it’s an entertaining track – that’s why it’s so easy to DNF around here.

“The biggest thing for us to work on this weekend is switching back to soft tyre mode. We’ve been in hard tyre mode for a couple of rounds now and the co-drivers haven’t had any running on soft tyres, so that’ll be the biggest thing to look out for.”

Amongst all that and the world-class musical performers by night, Red Bull Racing Australia will be making its presence felt.

Lowndesy and J-Dub are in a tense championships battle, not only with each other but with FPR duo Will Davison and Mark Winterbottom. And with only three rounds in total remaining in the season and the inaugural Pirtek Endurance Cup up of grabs, it will be a dogfight of epic proportions.

“It definitely puts extra pressure on the championship because it is so easy to have a mistake here. There are a few run-off areas, but then there are places that are very unforgiving,” says Dutto.

“Championships can be turned around in a heartbeat here.”

But Lowndesy and Whincup will have to rely on more than just their skills and those of the Red Bull Racing Australia pit crew to see them through on the Gold Coast. Like Bathurst, and Sandown before, their fates will again rest in the hands of co-drivers Warren Luff and Paul Dumbrell. Both have done exceedingly well this season so far, assuring podium finishes at both previous enduro races. But on the unforgiving streets of Surfers Paradise, it’s an entirely different ball game and one fraught with danger.

In years past we’ve witnessed the championship hopes of Winterbottom, Lowndes, Whincup and co dashed by chaos on The Glitter Strip. The international contingent of years past may well be gone but for even the most experienced of drivers, this circuit is merciless at the best times. In fact, with such a tight battle between the top-four, a DNF or two – which is more than possible – could spell disaster for any one of the championship contenders and leave their season struggling on life support.

The good news? It’s going to be a helluva lot of fun to watch.