Strategise for the Prize with Nick Percat
The Supercars Championship carries on to Reid Park Street Circuit this weekend for another weekend of high-octane racing.
Walkinshaw Andretti United, our team partner this season, are looking to continue their fine form as they head into the seventh race of the year.
While the races are where the points are scored, a lot goes into preparation to ensure that the strategy on race day is foolproof. This involves meticulous planning on how to attack the track, as well as guaranteeing that the car is in top shape for battle.
To know more about what goes on in strategising before the race weekend, we caught up with Nick Percat, driver of the Mobil 1 NTI Racing Car of Walkinshaw Andretti United.
How do you prepare for the different race formats in the Supercars Championship season?
Whether it’s a long race or a shorter race, we have to be as best prepared as possible. In Supercars racing anything can happen, and we are always out there to do the best job possible.
What’s your favourite Supercars circuit?
It’s hard to go past Bathurst – it’s the holy grail of our sport and one of the coolest tracks in the world.
What’s the most challenging circuit in the Supercars Championship in your opinion?
Again, it would be Bathurst. It can bite at any moment, and you have to be prepared for anything!
Do you prefer an endurance race or a SuperSprint?
I prefer endurance racing. Longer races bring in more strategy, more variables, and in my opinion, better racing.
What’s the biggest factor in winning an endurance race?
Doing everything right. Endurance races test everything, drivers, cars, crews – if one of those elements fails the race is over.
What’s the biggest factor in winning a SuperSprint?
Qualifying. Starting in a good position makes a world of difference in the shorter races, so maximising the one lap speed of the car earlier in the day is essential.
What are the biggest differences between racing in the day or at night?
Tyre degradation is probably the main one for our cars. With the cooler temps once the sun goes down, it definitely is a lot more friendly on the tyres compared to when the sun is out, which means they can last longer during a race.
How do you train differently when preparing for a special-format race like a top 10 shootout or Triple Crown?
Heat training is the biggest factor when we are racing the hotter events. It can be around 65 degrees inside the car at places like Darwin. Add into that our race suit, fireproof underwear, gloves and everything else, it’s fair to say it’s quite warm. Being prepared and in shape physically means you can not only handle the heat, but stay alert mentally.
What are you looking out for during practice rounds?
Car balance mostly. We work closely with our engineers and mechanics to try a lot of things during practice to ensure that our car is performing as well as possible.
What does a strategy session with the team look like?
We plan for a range of things, and have scenarios on what we will do if they happen. That’s everything from safety cars, when we will pit, or how many tyres we will change. You want to be as prepared as possible for anything that might happen.
The Supercars season is long – how do you stay in top shape in between race weekends?
Getting back training between rounds is really important. We can be on the road for a long time, so staying fit and eating well is essential, especially late in the year.
Besides physical training, how do you mentally prepare for a race?
I work closely with a sports psychiatrist to make sure I’m mentally ready to go as well as physically.