Tyre Cut Slows Stars
By: V8 Supercars
Cutting the tyre allocation for the Austin 400 has drawn the ire of some of the category’s leading drivers including Championship leader Jamie Whincup and arch-rival Mark Winterbottom, who both chose not to use a second set of slick tyres at the end of today’s Practice and go for a benchmark time.
And they also ridiculed the fact that many drivers used wet tyres to bed brakes on a dry day when the temperature headed well past 30 degrees Celsius, rather than take the edge off another set of slicks.
Each car has been allocated 28 tyres for the meeting to cover four practice sessions on Friday, two qualifying sessions on Saturday and four 100km races spread over Saturday and Sunday, which include mandatory stops for at least two tyres.
The V8 Supercars Commission cut the tyre allocation this year to save money. Test days have also been reduced.
“It looks a bit silly that people are coming out to watch us and we are running around on wets, but that’s what you’ve got to do when you have four races and six sets of tyres,” said Whincup, who never threatened the top of the time sheets all day and set only 23rd fastest time overall.
“I am confident for tomorrow. I like the circuit, I like the challenge of the circuit and I am confident we can move right up the order tomorrow on green tyres,” he added.
Meanwhile Whincup’s Red Bull Racing Australia teammate Craig Lowndes elected to use a second set of slicks to be fastest in his Holden Commodore VF, although he also used wets earlier in the day.
“I think it was quite funny we all went out on wets and we were having our own Grand Prix race around on wets in dry conditions. Of course, they didn’t last too long, but it gave us an opportunity to look at the track, get a feel for where everything was, we went obviously back to a slick after about eight or nine laps on the wet weather tyre and we got a good handle on the track, but of course the car balance was a little bit out.
“We spent three sessions really redesigning the car a little bit. We went up and down a sprint race and everything else, for us we got a pretty happy balance right at the end of session three and of course at the end of session four we were debating whether to put a second set on but we wanted to find out where the car balance had gone and we put them on and the car hooked up, it was really nice.”
Winterbottom, who finished the day 19th, elected not to use a second set of tyres once teammate Will Davison slotted into the top two on a green set: “Session four the car was really hooked up and if I wasn’t happy I would have put a second set on … but I can just look at Will’s data,” the FPR Ford Falcon driver explained.
“With these rules where they have taken a set of tyres away from 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 them up.”
BJR Lockwood Holden Commodore driver Fabian Coulthard, a dual winner in 2013 and sixth in the Championship was another star to be languishing in only 17th fastest.
“We used one set all day and I am sure there are a few around 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 just have to see how tomorrow pans out.”
Teammate Jason Bright who is another dual 2013 winner and fourth in the championship in the BOC Commodore was only 26th, but in his case it was because of handling issues rather than tyre conservation.
“Halfway through the third session we started to have a problem and we went back through all the changes and thought we had found the issue, but we hadn’t. The car is very unbalanced and not flowing.”