It will take two years before Supercars teams have truly maximised the new-for-2017 Dunlop control tyre, believes Shell V-Power competition director Ludo Lacroix.
Shell V-Power was among five teams to undertake its second test of the season on Tuesday, running an extensive development program across both Fords.
The Shell team has burst out of the blocks this year, appearing to make the most of the off-season change in tyre construction in its bid to catch previous pace-setters Triple Eight.
Declaring himself pleased with latest developments debuted on Tuesday, Lacroix noted that “there were lots of little directions and a couple of surprises” from the Ipswich running.
Exploring all the characteristics of the tyre and developing the cars accordingly, he says, will take time for teams to work through.
“I think the new tyre has given a wide new direction in little areas. It will take probably two years for us to get to the top of the tyre,” Lacroix told Supercars.com.
“Any time you throw in something so important characteristically like a tyre the way it sticks on the ground, the design of the car changes, the way you take and lose camber, all these things have interaction.
“It's interesting that happens because otherwise you end up with an order of people where they are and they will not move. You need something to shake it up a bit and the tyre is one way of doing that.
“(It takes time because) first of all you need to analyse that there is a difference. Secondly you need to try and put in place something to make it better and then you’ve got to prove it.
“That’s why the process is so long. We can’t test 40 days a year. That’s the reason, absolutely. It’s quite challenging and interesting.
“We are in a process until the end of the year, throwing bits at the car to see if it happens. By the end of the year we’ll taper out, but there are a never-ending number of things.”
While some have expressed surprise that the new tyre has produced just four winners from the first 10 races compared to nine in the same period last year, Lacroix says the results show a clear progression from the end of 2016.
“Triple Eight was dominating last year at the end of the season by a margin, which means this year they would have basically won every single race,” he said.
“Put aside Phillip Island (due to the tyre issues) and it’s Triple Eight and us winning races. That says if you take us out of the equation Triple Eight would have won nine out of 10.
“Nothing has changed really, just one team has popped up and challenged Triple Eight. Now we are sharing and they (Triple Eight) don’t like it much!”
When it comes to predicting how the rest of 2017 will play out, Lacroix is equally forthright.
Triple Eight and Shell V-Power are set to battle throughout the season, while Prodrive is on the verge and will succeed on occasion, provided the team doesn’t try and “force” results.
“Triple Eight is not going to go backwards, they have good people and work very hard. You can see Roland (Dane, team owner) is really putting the pressure on,” he said.
“We won’t drop down because that’s not what we do. It’ll be between us and them and then there will be PRA, who are capable of playing with us.
“It’s difficult when you’re just thereabouts to not go a bit too much and then you go slower.
“They are very close but not close enough to just say let the race come to us.
“As soon as you try and grab races… if you force the race weekend it goes away from you.
“If you’ve got the performance, the speed, and trust yourself, then once every three or four races you’re a winner.
“You can’t force a result. You try and work hard to get there but when you’re at a race weekend you let it come.”