Supercars’ latest control tyre change will have a major impact on how the 2018 season shakes out, believes Tickford spearhead Chaz Mostert.
The category reverts to the 2016-construction Dunlop tyre this year following the issues experienced while on an updated version last season.
Although teams have extensive data with the 2016 tyre – including from their use at Bathurst and Pukekohe last season – Mostert says the change should not be underestimated.
In tomorrow's pre-season test at Sydney Motorsport Park, teams' programs will include re-learning the tyre, utilising their bank of 2018 test tyres and pre-marked rubber left over from Bathurst and Pukekohe.
Mostert is taking aim at a maiden Supercars title after proving the closest challenger to the dominant Shell V-Power and Red Bull HRT squads last year.
“It could still be anyone’s in that top 10. There’s guys who can be super-quick and turn it on at any moment, we’ll just have to see,” Mostert told Supercars.com of the season ahead.
“The ’16 tyre is going to be a big spanner in the mix. I think people underestimate how big it will be because we’ve had a full year of progressing on a different tyre.
“It was a tyre that gives you more grip, and now we’re going back to one with less, so no doubt there will be some things that have to change a little bit.
“If anyone is breaking lap records this year they’ve found another sweet spot with the old tyre, that’s for sure.”
Mostert will move within Tickford Racing's two garages this year, from sharing with the #56 entry driven by Richie Stanaway to joining Mark Winterbottom, as Cameron Waters goes in the other direction.
Mostert sliding out of the lead at Symmons Plains, 2017
The 25-year-old won three races last season, as well as the PIRTEK Enduro Cup, in a strong turnaround from a winless 2016.
A handful of bad results, including a gearbox failure at Winton, set-up woes at Hidden Valley and driver errors at Bathurst and Pukekohe, however, proved costly in the final reckoning.
“I think this year the goal has to be higher than what we achieved last year,” he continued.
“We have to eliminate the bad rounds, the ones that hurt us the most last year, like Darwin and places like that where we now understand why we struggled so much there.
“Then just making upgrades on the car coming into this year. I know the guys have been working flat-out behind the scenes since before Christmas.
“I’ve got to have less faults in races as well,” he added, having also slid out of the lead in both races at Symmons Plains.
“Every driver no doubt has one memory from the year before, or several where they shouldn’t have made such a bad decision, where you’re racing for a podium or whatever and it ends up being a drive-through or something.
“We’ve got to nail the consistency, and if we do that there’s no reason we can’t win the championship.
“Obviously you need a fast car, fast pitstops, all of that to go with it, but I believe that we have the package to be fighting right up there.”