The all-in Sydney pre-season test means teams will not only get the chance to test at a different track to kick off 2017, but get a gauge on how others are performing when they first bolt on the all-new tyre compounds.
Teams are set to line-up at Sydney Motorsport Park for the first time on Tuesday February 21 to assess the new soft and super-soft Dunlop constructions before the always hectic Clipsal 500.
Teams and drivers alike have emphasised just how big an effect the new tyres could have on the running order, meaning that first day is critical for information – there’s just two 40 minutes practice sessions at the Adelaide Parklands circuit before teams go straight into qualifying.
“The exciting thing about having a test day with all the teams involved is it does offer a better opportunity to see where you are, and further to that it means the condition of the track will be a bit better with more cars pounding around it,” DJR Team Penske Managing Director Ryan Story told supercars.com.
“It’s a long enough track at Sydney Motorsport Park that we should be able to have a reasonable day of running without tripping over other cars too much.
“We’re pretty excited to head there; new tyre on a nice fast circuit gives us some good understanding of what we’ve got to look forward to in season 2017.”
All eyes will on the team with its new group – including driver Scott McLaughlin, who will have his first run in anger on the February day.
“He will have had a bit of seat time before then, to get the ergonomics right and get him comfortable with his new surroundings,” Story said.
“So it will be his first hit-out and it will be good to have his feedback and his direction on what he needs to do to go fast in one of our cars. We’re very much looking forward to it.
“Queensland Raceway isn’t what you might describe as the ultimate test track, so to go somewhere different is an opportunity you wouldn’t pass up, especially at an event you race at.”
Brad Jones Racing chief engineer Andrew Edwards says teams are already trying to predict the changes the new tyre may bring, given the limited opportunity to run before qualifying in the year’s first race.
“It’s hard to know at this point how hard it’s going to be, but we’re all racking our brains on what the new tyre might possibly need. So we have a toolbox of things to take to the test day to try and get on top of it the best we can,” Edwards told supercars.com.
Don’t be surprised if there’s a change in the running order with the new challenge spicing things up.
“Any time there’s a change of this magnitude, there’s always a reshuffle,” Edwards said.
“We saw at the start of the Car of the Future – there was a reshuffle in the order of pit lane a bit. I think over time the bigger, well-resourced teams will rise to the top but I think it’s a good opportunity to get on top of it fast.
“It’s going to mean some reasonable changes in the front and how we run the cars, so I think it’s going to suit some cars better than others straight away, so it will change things without a doubt.”
Similarly to DJRTP, a test away from regular home track – which for BJR is Winton – is more than welcome given BJR has been one of the form team at the circuit in recent years, winning both races dominantly last year with Tim Slade behind the wheel.
“I think the all-in days are really good for the teams because it lets us measure ourselves against the competition a lot better than if we go to Winton.
“In particular for our team, Winton is probably the last track we need to practice at right now – it’s a good opportunity to get to another track and test the tyre and our normal setup.”
The test day is not open to the public given it will be run by teams, but stay tuned to supercars.com for all the news on the day.