Driver’s Eye – Oran Park by Lee Castle
24/08/2009 at 3:02:09 AM:

Round Eight of the Shannons Nationals this weekend will be the final national-level race meeting at Sydney’s Oran Park Raceway, before it closes at the end of the year.

Oran Park will be missed by fans and drivers around the country and is the favourite circuit of many, including Boylan Traffic Solutions Australian Manufacturers Championship driver Lee Castle.

Before Lee straps in for this weekend’s racing, where he will be in the thick of the AMC title fight, he takes you for a hotlap in his Subaru in the latest instalment of Driver’s Eye on…

Turn 1
A very fast and challenging corner, a slight dab on the brake on the way in and downshift to fifth gear, and you just clip the inside ripple strip. As soon as you get through the apex of the Turn 1 kink, it’s hard on the brakes and back to third gear. The Subaru WRX STi is doing 200km/h on the way into the corner, with a mid-apex speed of about 150km/h.

Turn 2
There’s a large kerb on the inside of Turn 2 that you have to keep off, and it’s a very good overtaking spot deep on the brakes, if you can set a move up at Turn 1. It’s a bit off camber coming out of Turn 2, and it’s important to keep off the outside kerb so you can get a good run up the short straight under the bridge.

Turn 3
It’s fairly important to get Turn 3 right to get the whole back part of the track right. Once again there is a large kerb on the inside that you have to keep off, and the exit is one of the narrowest parts of the circuit. This is another good overtaking spot, however you have to slow the car right down mid corner, to prevent someone trying a cross over move into Turn 4. Turn 3 is in third gear, Turns 2 and 3 the slowest corners on the track at around 70km/h.

Turn 4
You can overtake into Turn Four, but it destroys your run over the bridge. It’s a weird corner, as the go-kart track track and the race track join together. You always think you’ve got it wrong, as there is a big bump in the middle of the turn which violently bounces the car, which continues right through the exit of the corner.

Turn 5 – Exit of the bridge
You set the run up over the bridge by staying on the left-hand side coming up out of Turn 4 and short shifting up to fourth gear. It’s a blind approach, the kerb comes out to a point, so you want to stay off the kerb as much as possible while getting on the gas as early as possible and using all of the track on exit.

Turns 6 & 7
Run in fourth gear all the way off the bridge, before a quick dab on the brakes to settle the car on entry. Run over the inside kerb on the right-hand Turn 6 which pushes you wide to the left-hand Turn 7, staying off the kerb. It’s very important to get the flow right all the way over the back part of the circuit, as one corner leads on to another. It’s 140km/h coming into S-bend, with a slowest point of 100km/h.

Turn 8
A quick dab on the brake and it’s back to third for the uphill Turn 8, where you use the concrete on the inside of the ripple strip. The corner goes from on-camber to off-camber on exit and there is a really severe ripple strip that you have to stay off while plucking fourth gear on the exit. You come in at 140km/h and wipe off around 45km/h through the corner.

Turn 9 – The Dogleg
Much of a muchness going into the Dogleg, whether you stay in fourth or go into fifth gear. The kerbs are nasty and with no concrete backing behind them. Slight roll off the throttle coming into the corner, or you can hold on tight without lifting if you are brave on new tyres. Enter from the left of the circuit, cut across to miss the first kerb, but hit the second kerb and shift into fifth on the downhill run to the final corner. The Dogleg is taken at around 140km/h.

Turn 10
On the 150km/h approach to the final corner, it’s back to third gear and late on the brakes; apex the corner as late as possible, open your hands as early as possible and let the car float out to the wall on exit. A good exit out of here will result in good terminal speed all of the way down the straight. Overtaking is a possibility, but if you get it wrong they will get you back down the straight, so you are probably better to set them up for a move at Turn 1 and 2 with a good run out of the final corner.

Oran Park is my favourite track. It’s a driver’s track, very busy with lots of elevation changes, camber changes and kerbs. The track always provides great racing, and it’s a very good spectator circuit.

We look forward to having a good weekend, and it will be incredibly sad to see the track close.

Lee Castle
Boylan Traffic Solutions Australian Manufacturers Championship
#25 Wilson Brothers Racing Subaru WRX STi
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