Drivers getting up to speed with Gen3 driver changes

08 Sep
'Driver change practice has been a little bit tough on the body'
3 mins by James Pavey
  • Sandown and Bathurst enduros the only races to feature driver changes

  • Gen3 cars have lower roofline than previous cars

  • Slower fuel flow will help take pressure off driver change times

Key to this week’s pre-enduro testing has been new driver change techniques, which will be put to the test at next weekend’s Penrite Oil Sandown 500.

There will be two drivers to each car for the Sandown and Bathurst enduros, which will feature driver changes during the race.

Not only have co-drivers had to adapt to the new car, which features less downforce, but they have had to adjust how they execute driver changes ahead of the longest races of the season.

The new-for-2023 cars have lower rooflines, which has created a new challenge for how drivers enter and exit the cabin.

The changes were a key part of teams’ pre-enduro test programmes this week, but will be under pressure during race situations.

Teams are allowed a driver assistant, who after a rule change in 2023, now has no restrictions when it comes to servicing the car during pit stops.

"The driver changes have in no doubt been interesting,” Triple Eight Race Engineering wildcard driver Craig Lowndes said.

randle jacobson pit stop

"Up until this point we’ve only seen the drivers getting in and out of the cars without any haste or speed, as they haven’t had the need to.

"Once you put a bit of pressure on anything, you realise you need take the time to practice and finesse the process and execution.

"Zane and I have our routine, and we’ve got our way to get in and out of the cars. This for me, for the first time, is different from what I am normally used to.

"These new cars have a lower profile roof, which means you’ve got to put your left leg in and then slide down into the seat, dragging your head and right leg with it.

"A little bit different, but it’s the same for everyone. Although it’s easy to practice driver changes but once you’re in a race, it adds the pressure.”

Lowndes’ co-driver Zane Goddard added: "Driver change practice has been going well. I’m not finding much of an issue with getting in and out of the car.

"I’m quite lucky that I am not one of the taller drivers on the grid, but I’m sure everyone will find a way that works for them.

tander reynolds pit stop

"When you add in the airline, fuel guys, and all those additional factors the space gets a lot tighter.”

Additionally, several combinations require a driver or co-driver to use a seat insert.

Notably, Lee Holdsworth is 20cm shorter than the 190cm-tall Chaz Mostert, while David Reynolds is 16cm shorter than 192cm-tall Garth Tander.

Crucially, pressure on driver changes will be alleviated by a slower fuel intake — where last year’s double coupling dumped 4.2 litres per second, the new the single coupling puts in 2.4 litres per second.

“Driver change practice has been a little bit tough on the body,” Shell V-Power Racing Team co-driver Alex Davison said.

“Being one of the bigger drivers, getting in these new Gen3 cars is quite tricky, but we’ve got it down pat.

“Our driver change times are not far off what we could do in the old car, we expected them to be quite a bit slower.

“With the slower fuel flow in the pit stops, we’ve actually got more time to do that driver change.”

Supercars will hit the track at Sandown for practice on Friday September 15. Tickets for the event are on sale now.

Related News