Cutting the tyre allocation for the Austin 400 has drawn theire of some of the category’s leading drivers including Championship leaderJamie Whincup and arch-rival Mark Winterbottom, who both chose not to use asecond set of slick tyres at the end of today’s Practice and go for a benchmarktime.
And they also ridiculed the fact that many drivers used wettyres to bed brakes on a dry day when the temperature headed well past 30degrees Celsius, rather than take the edge off another set of slicks.
Each car has been allocated 28 tyres for the meeting tocover four practice sessions on Friday, two qualifying sessions on Saturday andfour 100km races spread over Saturday and Sunday, which include mandatory stopsfor at least two tyres.
The V8 Supercars Commission cut the tyre allocation thisyear to save money. Test days have also been reduced.
“It looks a bit silly that people are coming out to watch usand we are running around on wets, but that’s what you’ve got to do when youhave four races and six sets of tyres,” said Whincup, who never threatened thetop of the time sheets all day and set only 23rd fastest time overall.
“I am confident for tomorrow. I like the circuit, I like thechallenge of the circuit and I am confident we can move right up the ordertomorrow on green tyres,” he added.
Meanwhile Whincup’s Red Bull Racing Australia teammate CraigLowndes elected to use a second set of slicks to be fastest in his HoldenCommodore VF, although he also used wets earlier in the day.
“I think it was quite funny we all went out on wets and wewere having our own Grand Prix race around on wets in dry conditions. Ofcourse, they didn’t last too long, but it gave us an opportunity to look at thetrack, get a feel for where everything was, we went obviously back to a slickafter about eight or nine laps on the wet weather tyre and we got a good handleon the track, but of course the car balance was a little bit out.
“We spent three sessions really redesigning the car a littlebit. We went up and down a sprint race and everything else, for us we got apretty happy balance right at the end of session three and of course at the endof session four we were debating whether to put a second set on but we wantedto find out where the car balance had gone and we put them on and the carhooked up, it was really nice.”
Winterbottom, who finished the day 19th, elected not to usea second set of tyres once teammate Will Davison slotted into the top two on agreen set: “Session four the car was really hooked up and if I wasn’t happy Iwould have put a second set on … but I can just look at Will’s data,” the FPRFord Falcon driver explained.
“With these rules where they have taken a set of tyres awayfrom us at every round, so everyone just puts their wets on to bed in brakes.It’s meant to be a cost saving but you are using a set of wets and burning themup.”
BJR Lockwood Holden Commodore driver Fabian Coulthard, adual winner in 2013 and sixth in the Championship was another star to belanguishing in only 17th fastest.
“We used one set all day and I am sure there are a fewaround me who did exactly the same thing and didn’t put another green set on,”he said. “Hopefully having green tyres in hand will aid us, but we will justhave to see how tomorrow pans out.”
Teammate Jason Bright who is another dual 2013 winnerand fourth in the championship in theBOC Commodore was only 26th, but in his case it was because of handling issuesrather than tyre conservation.
“Halfway through the third session we started to have aproblem and we went back through all the changes and thought we had found theissue, but we hadn’t. The car is very unbalanced and not flowing.”