Teams gamble for big points today

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 22/06/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

At least three cars have taken a gamble for today's 200km race, electing to use just one set of Dunlop hard tyres across both of yesterday's races.

The valuable 200km run is worth 150 Championship points - the equivalent of both 100km races yesterday combined - and could mean different names high in the order after Jamie Whincup blitzed yesterday's sprints.

Whincup is concerned about making it through the run at the abrasive Hidden Valley circuit with two sets of Dunlop soft compound tyres, and the option of using yesterday's hard tyres.

Russell Ingall, and Rick and Todd Kelly have a fresh set of hard tyres intentionally saved for today's race.

Erebus Motorsport's Lee Holdsworth and Will Davison also have barely used sets after power steering dramas struck down both E63s in alternate races.

Ingall knows the team's choice is a gamble, but after solving an issue in qualifying, felt his Repair Management Australia Racing Commodore would be in a better position to capitalise today.

"We're going to roll the dice - we've got three beautiful sets of tyres we're going to throw on... With a bit of luck we'll be rolling that 23 up the front!" Ingall said.

"There's no doubt about it - it is a risk, it is a gamble... But bugger it because Sunday's the day, that's the day we get the champagne. So we're going to give it a big crack, don't worry about that."

His competitors on the alternate strategy were more quietly confident.

Todd Kelly's race engineer Perry Kapper told v8supercars.com.au it was - as usual - all dependent upon where they qualified for today's race.

"If we qualify somewhere into the top 15 or 10, finish somewhere in the 10 maybe get a result ... somewhere close to the podium,"he said.

"We're still losing a chunk of time down the straight so we're still waiting for updates. But the cars, they were pretty quick through the middle sector so fingers crossed everything pans out."

As with Ingall, poor qualifying results on Saturday led the decision to save the tyres, "We've basically elected to have a better Sunday with the double points."

He admitted the advantage the team would have was still a little unclear, "It's a bit unknown. We're expecting maybe a second a lap."

While Norton stablemate James Moffat ultimately suffered a flat tyre after damage to the front suspension of his Altima, Kapper said three tyres that hadn't run 35 laps were still better than a full set of raced rubber.

Erebus interestingly is in a similar situation with a barely used set of tyres for each Mercedes - though it wasn't by choice.

The power steering rack had to be replaced in Davison's car after the first race and the team was assessing whether Holdsworth's issue had been the same.

Erebus technical director Wes McDougall warned each person's advantage, or disadvantage, wouldn't be clear until the race started to unfold.

He explained the various strategies we may see - starting on hard tyres, or softs.

"It depends where you qualify - some people might want to start on softs and get clean air at the start of the race and pull away and have track position, which is often important here, because as we've seen it's really hard to pass.

"Here in the past there's been incidents and a late safety car, so you certainly don't want to be exposed on the wrong tyre at that stage - you want to come home strong on soft tyres.

"So I can see a couple of people banking on starting on hards and coming home stronger with two sets of soft tyres, and minimising the laps on the soft tyres so we can push hard and not have to conserve so much. So I think that's probably what the people who saved tyres today will do, so they don't have to try and save their soft tyres."

Fabian Coulthard's race engineer Phil Keed said the extra set was definitely not a guarantee of a win - but if the teams with the fresh tyres qualify well, it will make a difference.

The Lockwood Racing Commodore is in a very different position - Coulthard finished ninth and third in yesterday's race, and is third in the Championship points so saving rubber was not an option.

"We're looking at a year long consistent performance in points, so to just ride out the waves," Keed said.

"The problem is, it's half the points (Saturday over two races) and half the points today - you give up quite a few points to save the tyres.

"There are a few cars that it might mean they get a spike and a good result (today), but it's the two sets of softs that are going to bring you home."

Managing the tyres in qualifying will be critical because teams will need to use at least one set of softs to set a time.

"You want a good qualy position but you certainly don't want two sets of knackered tyres," Keed said. "It's as hard work as we're going to have to do on softs all year, I think."

Stay In The Know
Sign up to the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Newsletter