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Strategy Guide: The possible race strategies for Perth

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Supercars.com has listed the keys to strategy at the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint, Round 4 of the 2024 season
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The Repco Supercars Championship turns its attention to Western Australia and the historic CARCO.com.au Raceway, which is just one of two circuits with a lap shorter than 60 seconds.

As expected, there’s no time to take a breather, as the 2.4km circuit tests drivers, teams and cars as they vie for victory.

As often is the case in Perth, the circuit is expected to produce high tyre degradation, and with a reduction in minimum tyre pressure, drivers will be walking on a tightrope.

Supercars.com has listed the keys to strategy at the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint, where drivers jump back into sprint mode.

What tyres do we have?

The Perth weekend will be held on Dunlop’s Soft tyre compound. Each car will have 24 Soft tyres, or six sets, for qualifying and the races.

Eight (two sets) pre-marked event tyres and four new tyres (one set) must be handed back after practice.

What is the circuit like?

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Perth has a high average speed of 160km/h, and with 44 percent of a lap spent turning, drivers are busy.

The track surface underwent its last major resurface between the 2018 and 2019 events, and is forever evolving. It slowly degrades due to sand and use, so expect slightly higher tyre degradation this year.

There may only be seven corners, but with two left turns and five right turns, the left side will cop plenty of tyre wear. Tyre temperature is an issue, as the tyres don’t get much of a rest.

Drivers who can manage tyre will shine, but while the front right tyre gets a ride, it can still be damaged in brake lock situations, particularly into Turn 7. The keys are to be patient on throttle, have smooth steering, and be solid on trail braking.

The track will improve with rubber down, and cars will respond to low fuel levels. However, rubber marbles offline towards the end of the race might be difficult to avoid. The circuit also has low kerbs, and expect plenty of kerb action at Turns 2 and 3, and straddling at the exit of Turn 7.

The keys to qualifying

Drivers only have 10 minutes per segment of three-part qualifying, so clear track is imperative. The Live Pit Lane order may affect some teams, while different warm-up procedures or laps may cause hold ups. At short circuits like Perth, drivers often have issues with being out of sync.

Teams have a very small window to make changes if the car is not balanced. When on track, key to performance is front tyre temperature and brake temperature.

Track condition will also play a big part as the track grips up.

Expect the last four minutes of each segment to be action-packed. However, we have previously seen some teams opt for a clear track in the short break between other runs.

Critical lap

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Drivers must complete one Compulsory Pit Stop (CPS) in the race, and must change a minimum of two tyres. While there is no refuelling, drivers will need to keep on eye on their tyres over the course of 55 laps. Given the tyre degradation, the critical lap for tyres to get home is lap 25, with the best tyre run 28 laps in 2023.

Teams must use one set of green tyres on Friday, so we will get a good look at lap time. However, tyre degradation in practice is not all that indicative of race degradation.

Expected strategies

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The even strategy is to take two or three tyres on lap 25, setting up a 29-lap run home. The average time to change two tyres is approximately 3.5 seconds, while it takes approximately five seconds to change three tyres.

The high risk strategy, a two-stopper, sees drivers take two tyres at the first stop around lap 18, and a second stop (two to three tyres) around lap 36. It's particularly high risk due to an early Safety Car and relies on either being out in front, or other cars peeling off to pit from in front.

Given the best tyre run from 2023 was 28 laps, a Safety Car around lap 20 will make all drivers and teams take notice. A Safety Car might see drivers take advantage of new tyres to get through traffic. A new tyre can lap around 54-55 seconds, while a used tyre settles at 57-58 seconds.

Pit stops are critical in Perth. It is very easy to overdo the pit entry off Turn 7, and underdo the exit around the inside of Turn 1. Pit lane is short, but the exit needs to be attacked on cold tyres as drivers head straight into Turns 3, 4 and 5.

Safety Car probability

Safety Cars are known to change the game in Perth, even though all three races in 2023 ran green.

Starts in Perth are always action-packed. Anyone on the inside at Turn 1 will be on the outside at Turn 2 and Turn 4. Expect some drama into the tight 70km/h corners from Turns 1 to 5, and plenty of traffic into Turns 6 and 7.

Of the 58 races held in Perth since 2000, the Safety Car has appeared in 27 of them. There has never been more than three Safety Car periods in any Perth race. While the Safety Car has made an appearance in just five of the last 20 Perth races, there is still an overall rate of 45 percent.

With lots of rubber off-line and inviting sand traps, expect some drivers to find trouble late in the race.

What about the weather?

Presently, all three days of the event are expected to be fine and sunny, with easterly and northeasterly winds, which could blow sand onto the circuit. However, Sunday could have patches of clouds, and there is a slight chance of a shower...

Craig Lowndes's take on the circuit

"Perth is a super exciting track. I love the place because it's almost like driving on an ice skating rink," 16-time Perth race winner Lowndes said in his exclusive pre-event column for Supercars.com.

"After about four or five laps, the tyres start to degrade. You've just got to be really smooth on the application of the throttle exiting Turn 1, and slide it over the crest into the short run to Turn 6, into which we call the 'Bowl'. Then, get good drive out of 6, and power down to the big braking zone at Turn 7.

"You've got to have the whole car moving, not just have understeer or oversteer. To go well in Perth, you have to have a set-up to literally allow the whole car to slide. It's a great challenge."

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