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Drivers wary of high Townsville tyre deg

07 Jul
'It's going to be hard work out there and a long race for us'
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Tyre degradation will be a major talking point heading into Saturday’s first race at the NTI Townsville 500.

Drivers will tackle long races for the first time since March’s Thrifty Newcastle 500.

Few circuits are as tough on tyres as Townsville, with its big power corners and big kerbs putting drivers to the test.

The new Gen3 cars slide around more, opening the door to drivers being forced to keep an eye on their rear tyres.

Strategy will be key in the refuelling races, with the possibility of a three-stop strategy coming into play.

Two compulsory stops must be completed, with drivers to complete the weekend on Dunlop’s Soft compound.

Brad Jones Racing’s Bryce Fullwood, who was second on Friday, believes the degradation will lead to “entertaining” racing.

“We did quite a lot of laps in P1 — I need to do quite a lot more [in a race stint] and I’m quite concerned,” Fullwood said.

“I think it will be entertaining. I’m interested to see what happens.”

Tickford Racing’s Cam Waters, who was third in Practice 2, said: “We’re going to be hanging on.

“Hopefully [the circuit] rubbers in a little bit before tomorrow’s race and it’s a bit better than we all think."

“I think the tyres are definitely working hard,” Team 18’s Mark Winterbottom added.

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“The way the cars are sliding around, it’s going to be hard work out there and a long race for us behind the wheel."

Penrite Racing’s Matt Payne, who was 12th and eighth in practice, said: “I think the tyre deg will be the main factor in the race.

“A lot of people will be struggling with the rears over the stints."

Red Bull Ampol Racing’s Broc Feeney said little was learn about long stints in the relatively short 30-minute practice sessions.

“These practice sessions feel so short because you only really get four short runs,” said Feeney, who was fourth and ninth.

“You really need to maximise every opportunity you have because it goes super quick.

There’s certainly going to be a lot of challenges come race time… I think the deg of the tyres is going to be quite high with these cars.

“There’s lots of rubber off the racing line which means there’s going to be a lot of pick up in the race.

"88 laps is a bloody long way."

Cars will return to the track on Saturday for ARMOR ALL Qualifying at 10:15am AEST, followed by the Top Ten Shootout at 12:00pm.

The first 88-lap race of the weekend, Race 16, will commence at 2:40pm.

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