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Strategy Guide: The possible race strategies for Townsville

Supercars
05 Jul
Supercars.com has listed the keys to strategy at the NTI Townsville 500
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After two short and sharp sprint rounds, refuelling and strategy returns at the annual round in North Queensland, the NTI Townsville 500.

At 2.86km, this track is a quick blast around the streets. But, don't be fooled. Townsville is a hybrid circuit, and has manhole covers, white lines and even a train crossing, all waiting to catch drivers out.

After five rounds, a form guide has emerged, and a championship fight is unfolding between teammates and Chaz Mostert, with a hungry pack behind waiting for them to slip up.

Could it happen this weekend in Townsville? Supercars.com explains the keys to strategy for this weekend's 88-lap, 250km races, and the fastest way to the finish.

What tyres do we have?

Dunlop’s Soft tyre compound returns for the NTI Townsville 500. Each car will have 28 Soft tyres for qualifying and the races. Eight (two sets) pre-marked event tyres must be handed back after practice. Each car also has 24 wet weather tyres (six sets), which could come in handy with rain forecast.

What is the circuit like?

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Any street circuit is tough, and Townsville is no different. As a circuit, it's a great challenge, with a high average speed of 157km/h and average corner speed of 60km/h.

It may say 'street circuit' on the tin, but it's similar to many road tracks, given resurfacing, and bumps caused by floods and summer heat.

Nearly half of the lap (45 percent) is spent turning, and with three left turns and 10 right turns, it is very hard on the left rear tyre. Tyre degradation is most evident in the last half of the circuit, and it's easy to lock tyres into Turn 2 and Turn 6.

Three turns require hard braking, and line pressure brake energy is especially high at Turns 11 and 13.

The keys to practice and qualifying

Track condition will play a big part as the track grips up. As always, watch for cloud cover, track temperature and wind direction changes.

Drivers have 15-minute Boost Mobile Qualifying sessions to get into the Shootout, and given lap times are approximately 73 seconds, teams have a very short window to make change if the car is not balanced.

All told, drivers will get a warm-up lap then one push lap, and they'll get two strong runs.

Front tyre temperature and brake temperature is critical in qualifying. You need to get the car pulled up at Turn 2 after blasting down the long straight!

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Drivers have seven sets available across qualifying and the races, so they could tap into three sets per qualifying session to get into the Shootout.

Critical lap and expected strategies

Race Strat 1

We go racing twice this weekend, and it's a long one at 88 laps.

Drivers can get home on fuel on lap 36, but lap 60 is the key critical lap with tyres. Any earlier, and you'll be fighting to keep position towards the end of the race, as you tyres go from underneath you.

Drivers must make two compulsory pit stops (CPS) and change a minimum of two tyres at each stop, with 100 litres of fuel required. Approximately 42 seconds or fuel can be split over the two stops, or three stops, if you're brave.

Tyre life and traffic are critical, and timing your gap for pit stops needs careful management. Traffic, or being held up by a car on used tyres, will affect your race big time.

As mentioned, it's tough on tyres here. Last year, the longest stint on tyres was 29 laps.

The fastest way home in a green race is a two-stop strategy, taking four tyres and 30L (10 seconds) of fuel around lap 28, and a second four-tyre stop on lap 60 with 70L (30 seconds) of fuel.

The standard two-stopper is a stop around lap 22, with four tyres and 50L (22 seconds). Pit for a second time on roughly lap 55, for four tyres and 50L (22 seconds) of fuel.

So, what about a three-stopper? We saw it used to great effect in 2023, given Safety Cars made an appearance. Drivers would take four tyres and roughly 35L (14 seconds) of fuel around lap 15, before coming in for a second time for four tyres and 35L (14 seconds) around lap 45. Look for a late Safety Car, and come in around lap 65 for four tyres and 30L (13 seconds) of fuel to get home, with superior grip.

Race Strat 2

Safety Car probability

The Safety Car has appeared in 21 of the 38 races held at Reid Park. Oddly, drivers seem to turn up the wick on Sunday, with 13 of the 20 Sunday races at the event featuring the Safety Car. Regardless, it's a street circuit, so expect some drama and some damage along the way.

What about the weather?

Expect Queensland sunshine, but at present, showers are forecast on Friday. Saturday and Sunday are expected to be partly cloudy, which could play a big role in qualifying and the Shootout in particular.

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