5 things to watch at the Sydney test

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 17/02/2017
  • By Lewis Isaacs

Five things to watch at tomorrow's Sydney Motorsport Park test day, where all 26 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship entries will be on track.

New tyres

It’s obvious, but the impact will be more profound than just switching to a new set of boots.

Changing construction of Dunlop’s tried and test tyres will force engineers and drivers to have a major rethink about their cars.

Jason Bright has even labelled it a bigger shift from when the cars jumped from 17” to 18” wheels.

Whoever can get on top of the tyres first will have a major championship advantage, and the work the engineers do between now and the Clipsal 500 will be as intense as anything on track.

Nick Percat 2017 Brad Jones Racing Nick Percat takes over car #8 at Brad Jones Racing

New teams

Six Supercars drivers will get their first proper hit out with new teams tomorrow.

Scott Pye, Scott McLaughlin, Nick Percat, Garth Tander, Jason Bright and Dale Wood have new homes for the year and for all but Percat and Tander it involves a change of brand.

McLaughlin’s switch has been the highest profile and Nick Percat hopes his move to BJR can move him into contention to win races.

Pye’s chance at Walkinshaw marks the first-time he has had a long-term arrangement with a team while Tander’s appointment at GRM comes as the team shifts from Volvo back to Holden.

Bright’s return to Prodrive could also be a boost for the Ford team, with the former BJR driver renowned for his detailed technical feedback.

Practice

New combos

Change isn’t just limited to just switching teams and cars, as even a few of those staying put will be working with new engineers.

The most sweeping changes have taken place at Prodrive, where there are no carryover partnerships from 2016.

In total, just 11 of the driver/engineer pairings remain intact from last year's season finale, three of which are at Triple Eight.

Drivers will tell you, understanding the relationship with your engineer is worth plenty of time on track. For many, today will be the first test in more than one way.

Garry Rogers Motorsport 2017 Wilson Security James Moffat Garth Tander GRM has built two new Commodores

New cars

While Garry Rogers Motorsport’s two New Generation Holden Commodores have been the biggest story of new car builds, Triple Eight will have three new chassis for the season, while Nissan, Erebus, Prodrive and DJR Team Penske have one new car each.

With GRM forgoing a shakedown, this day will be as much about ensuring the squad nailed the build of the cars as it is understanding the new rubber.

Ceremony Simona De Silvestro joins the series full-time in 2017

The rookies

As Nissan’s new recruit prepares for her maiden season in the category, every opportunity to get behind the wheel is massive for Simona de Silvestro.

Tomorrow will be her final opportunity to drive the Altima before she heads to the gruelling Clipsal 500 and every lap will be crucial in her development.

The Swiss racer admits these opportunities are as much about her adapting her style as it is developing the car and this is the chance to compare herself to the rest of the field.

Alex Rullo will also make another major step in his development as the 16-year-old readies for his first campaign.

Expectations are modest, but the teenager is expected to soak up the experience after a crash last time he drove the car at Winton.

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