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Flat or lift? Drivers react to new Chase challenge

THE biggest takeout from Practice 1 at the 2023 Repco Bathurst 1000 was clear – the Mount Panorama Circuit has a new corner.

After years of the right-hand kink leading into The Chase being easily taken flatout in the previous generation Supercars, the bend is now a major challenge for drivers.

That’s the result of the lower downforce levels on the Gen3 Supercars, said to have been reduced by two-thirds over the Gen2 machines they replaced.

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Will Brown’s fastest lap of the session – a 2:05.9s – proved 1.5s slower than in the corresponding practice session last year, as Soft tyres partially countered the reduced downforce.

Championship leader Brodie Kostecki set the early pace in the hour of running, admitting to a major moment through the high-speed section on his first lap.

“I held it flat on my first flyer,” said Kostecki. “I did a warm-up lap going down The Chase there and scared the absolute crap out of myself.

“I was only just able to pull it up, thought I was going to end up in the fence on the right-hand-side!

“It’s really cool to drive these cars around here, it’s a lot different to last year with no aero, I think there’s been a few moments out there.”

Walkinshaw Andretti United Ford driver Chaz Mostert, who ended the session fourth-fastest, elaborated on the challenge of ‘the kink’.

He was among those interested in the top speed of the cars which can theoretically exceed 300km/h, but registered no better than the ‘280s’ on the official speed trap before the kink.

“I was trying to look at the speedo down the straight, but once I got to the kink I was a bit too scared trying to look!” he said.

“It was kind of flat (on the way) in for me, but you were kind of rolling off as you were mid-to-exit; you know how you have that bump there, you were trying to calm it down by then.

“I’m sure in the race when you’re following people and get this mega tow and you’re going five to 10km/h quicker, there might be some really cool slow-mos through there.

“I think it’s flat in, we’re just rolling off a bit earlier than we were with the other cars.”

Tickford Racing’s Cam Waters said the cars were more stable around the circuit than he expected, but admitted he had not taken the kink flat.

“Over the top of the Mountain the car didn’t actually feel that bad: fairly stable, just going a little bit slower than you previously would,” he said.

“Even into The Chase I was surprised how it actually wasn’t that bad. I thought it was going to be super-loose, I was going to be out of control and battling it, but it felt not too bad.”

Asked if he’d been flat through the kink at The Chase, he added: “I could, but I’m not doing it yet. I’ll save a couple of things up my sleeve for quali.

“The car doesn’t feel too bad. Obviously Will (Brown) is super-fast and even Brodie, but it’s a long journey to qualifying and even the race.”

A second practice session for co-drivers only will complete the opening day of track action for the Repco Supercars Championship contenders at Mount Panorama.

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