AS the Supercars Championship re-fires following an unexpected early to mid season break in Darwin, all attention will be turned once again to the round black things that support the cars.
Yep, like it or not, tyres will once again dominate the discussion as the series’ hits the uniquely challenging Hidden Valley Raceway, just outside of the Northern Territory’s capital.
The event will be the first for Dunlop’s new Super Soft compound control tyre – an extra sticky version of the regular Dunlop slicks the series has used for years.
Of course with additional grip comes additional wear and it is there where the discussion will be centered as the series continues to find new ways to spice up the racing via alternative tyre strategies, compounds and allocations.
It’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out this weekend because Darwin represents an interesting tyre challenge.
Though it’s not a long lap, 1,100 metres of it’s 2.8km layout is all drag strip meaning the 14 corners in the layout are crammed within just 1.7 kilometres.
The hot track and ambient conditions coupled with the corner combinations and the intensity of the lap mean it’s always a track where tyre wear can play a significant role.
I often see arguments against the use of varying compounds of tyres to spice up the racing product and I get that it can be a frustrating and, in many instances, boring topic of discussion.
But even if the cars were on the most hard-wearing, durable tyre in the world it would still be about who gets the most out of it – the topic wouldn’t go away.
The fact that a 1500kg racing car, with 650hp is supported by about six inches of rubber contacting the road at each corner and nothing else, they’re always going to be fundamental to the story whether they’re super soft or super hard.
It’s good to see Supercars experimenting to keep the show interesting and it’s good to see Dunlop taking a risk because – as we saw with Pirelli in the recent Azerbaijan Grand Prix – running a Softer tyre can be quick pathway to a public relations nightmare with just one failure.
Any time the series introduces a tyre designed to wear quicker it only increases the chances of failures which, in turn, only increases the chances of people pouring scorn on the tyre supplier.. despite the fact they’re only doing what they were asked to do in the first place.
Still, that’s the tyre game and it will be interesting to see how this one plays out as the circus finally gets back on the road this weekend.
Consistency for Chaz
SPEAKING of getting back on the road, good news for all concerned that Chaz Mostert will remain a Walkinshaw Andretti United driver for at least the next two years, having inked a new deal last week.
It’s good for the team, obviously, because they retain a driver generally ranked by most as one of the four or five best talents in the sport at the moment.
It’s good for Chaz, too, because WAU is clearly a team on the rise – as proven by his recent win in Tasmania. What’s more, the ongoing links with Andretti and United Autosport will obviously help his international racing prospects moving forward.
Best of all though, it’s good for the sport. There’s always a natural gravitation of the best drivers to the best teams – that’s just competition – which often means you end up with an F1 scenario where there’s only two or three teams with the technical and driving firepower to win week in, week out.
Chaz staying at WAU means that the current powerhouses like DJR and Triple Eight, and also Tickford, will have to look elsewhere for more A+-grade talent.
It should mean for a more competitive WAU squad and a more competitive championship moving forward.
Whether it means a more competitive Chaz, on the other hand, is up to the team – but the signs are positive that this is a long-term relationship that will quickly bare fruit.