V8 Supercar drivers gear up for trip to Texas
The few drivers who have seen the American track for this weekend's V8 Supercars race say Bathurst might be the only thing bigger than Texas.
Only a handful of those who will race at the spectacular Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas have seen it close up. The vast majority will get their first look when they arrive in the United States later on Tuesday (local time) ahead of Saturday's first practice session.
Purpose-built to host America's rounds of the Formula One and MotoGP world championships, a truncated 3.75km version of the full 5.5km Grand Prix track will be used for the V8s' four weekend races.
With several points of elevation, a lightning-fast straight and a mix of high-speed and low-speed areas, Austin is being described as ''a driver's track'' the competitors will love.
Some, like Ford's Mark Winterbottom, say racing in North American motor racing heartland on such a quality track can provide the closest thing to a Bathurst-like experience outside Mount Panorama.
''Last time I was there, only half the track was finished. From my initial visit, I was impressed by the facilities and the dramatic elevation changes so I can't wait to see the finished product,'' Winterbottom said of his visit last year.
''I thought it was amazing and, when I saw the track... the front half was asphalt, but the second half was dirt. Even then, it was still one of the best looking circuits I'd seen and I think it will suit our category well. I can't wait to have a go at it.''
Among those to have driven on the finished article are Holden duo Fabian Coulthard and James Courtney.
''It's unbelievable ... when you drive it in a V8 Supercar, it is pretty impressive,'' Coulthard said. ''The most impressive part for me was turn one driving down into turn two. It was awesome to have the up and down and the high-speed, low-speed mix. It will work really well with our cars.''
The US will become the sixth international venue to host V8 Supercar racing, joining New Zealand's two venues Pukekohe and Hamilton, China, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi.
Holden driver Jamie Whincup leads the series after four events from Ford's Will Davison.