Lateral thinking V8 Supercars veteran Jason Bright is proposing a rule change he believes will add engineering challenge to the category while also saving money.
And it’s freeing up an item rather than adding tighter controls.
The Brad Jones Racing BOC Holden Commodore VF driver would like teams to be able to choose the Albins T6 transaxle ‘drop gear’ ratio fitted in their cars at each round.
At the moment the drop gear ratio – which acts in the same way as a final drive in an orthodox manual gearbox – is designated by V8 Supercars for each track used in the championship.
But Bright argues that level of control is counter-productive, because some teams are now building circuit-specific engines at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
He argues allowing teams to select the drop gear ratio themselves would negate the need for such an expense, delivering a significant potential saving to pit lane.
“I think we should be freeing up the drop gear as a test just to see whether it will add a factor that is not expensive to aid everyone’s performance,” Bright told v8supercars.com.
“Teams then don’t have to build an engine to suit each circuit, which is expensive.
“At the moment, in an ideal world, you have an engine for certain tracks and bolt another engine in for other tracks. And if the category goes that way where every team has got to have that it’s just ludicrous.”
Differential and gear ratios have long been controlled in V8 Supercars, harking back to the pre-NewGen days when the separate Holinger gearbox and Ford nine-inch differential were employed in the cars.
But Bright argues that cost centre no longer exists with the move to the Albins transaxle and the arrival of the much simpler process of changing the drop gear.
“The rule was brought in to simply reduce cost, which it did,” Bright said. “It reduced costs for teams so they weren’t pulling apart gearboxes and diffs to change ratios. But now it has gone the other way because you have to build an engine to suit that diff ratio.
“I feel like it would actually be a good inexpensive way to give all the cars a little bit of difference so you don’t know what the car next to you is running.
“It (the drop gear) is easy to change compared to changing gear ratios or diff ratios or having a completely different engine.”
Bright is not advocating a gearing free-for-all, suggesting there would be constraints imposed to ensure cars don’t spend too much time on the limiter. A ratio would probably have to be nominated pre-event so swaps between sessions and races are avoided.
“In our category we control areas that cost money; we control shock absorbers, we control seven post rig testing, we control testing, we control tyres, we control all these things.
“A drop gear is a very easy way to put a freedom in there that the teams can work on and engineer and try and find a way. Maybe it will make some passing and who’s against that?”
Bright’s thoughts on the subject crystallised after the Clipsal 500 where he and his team-mate Tim Slade (Freightliner Racing) and Tim Blanchard (Cooldrive) had to grapple with a particular characteristic of their Noonan Race Engines-built Chevrolet V8s.
Bright realised a change in drop gear ratio would have aided with the characteristic, which he declined to be specific about. He said the ability to change ratio could have been worth up to 0.2sec per lap on a qualifying lap.
“It’s two tenths between where we were in 18th and eighth. It’s the difference between nailing three sectors the best we can in one lap – which is hard – or having that two tenths buffer which means having two good sectors and mucking up one and still getting in to the 10, which is what I see others doing.”
But he stressed his belief that allowing drop gear freedom of choice would not change the racing in the category fundamentally.
“I really don’t think it’s going to give any one a massive advantage,” Bright said.
“But it will obviously help us, because it will stop Brad (Jones) from spending hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“At the same time it will help Dumbrell (Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport) as well, it might help the Kellys (Nissan Motorsport), there might be a bunch of teams it helps because it means they don’t have to spend money to do it.
“Some of those teams probably don’t realise it, but it might mean that they get to save money as well.”