What to expect in Supercars' first races at Taupō

10 Apr
'The surface is very abrasive. Some people have been saying it's as abrasive as what the old Wanneroo was'
3 mins by James Pavey, Main Pic by Toyota GAZOO Racing New Zealand
  • Taupō to make highly-anticipated Supercars debut on April 19-21

  • Thomas Randle expects Turn 1 drama, high tyre deg

  • Supercars will contest two 200km races on Dunlop Soft tyre

Turn 1 drama, high degradation and a dirty surface will play keys roles in Supercars’ first races at Taupō, according to Tickford Racing driver Thomas Randle.

On April 19-21, Taupō International Motorsport Park will become the 35th different circuit, and the first new circuit since 2018, to host a championship Supercars round.

Several Supercars drivers have crossed the Tasman Sea to check out the 3.32km circuit, while a select few have previously raced at Taupō, including Randle.

Randle competed in the Toyota Racing Series (now the Formula Regional Oceania Championship) in 2015 and 2017, and scored five top four finishes in seven starts.

The 2017 TRC champion, who tested at Winton Motor Raceway on Wednesday, expects high first-lap drama at Taupō, particularly at the left-hand Turn 1.

However, Randle suggested drivers could gain or lose several positions through the first sector alone, given the direction changes at Turns 2, 3 and 4.

ONBOARD: Randle's virtual lap of Taupō

“When I raced there in TRS, there were some mad shunts at Turn 1,” Randle told Supercars.com.

“Turn 1 is going to be interesting in a few ways, I think. In terms of passing opportunities during the race, it's going to be tough at the start.

"Car placement is going to be key on the first lap, because each corner leads onto the next very quickly. So, if you're on the outside of [Turn] 1, then you're on the inside for 2.

"But then, you're on the outside for 3, then the inside for 4. So, it's going to be one of those tracks where the first lap is going to be very important.”

V8-powered cars have previously raced at Taupō, in the guise of New Zealand’s V8 SuperTourers Championship (pictured below from 2017). Supercars drivers recently lapped the likes of a V8 Toyota Camry V8, Mazda MX-5 and Toyota 86 around the circuit.

Tyre life is expected to play a crucial role in strategy, given the nature of the low-downforce Gen3 Supercars, different surface patches around the circuit, and according to Randle, an overall “abrasive” surface.

v8 super tourers 2017 taupo chapman

Randle likened the Taupō surface to the old high-degradation Wanneroo Raceway surface in Perth, which will host Round 4 of the championship in May.

"The surface is very abrasive. Some people have been saying it's as abrasive as what the old Wanneroo was,” Randle said.

“A big talking point will probably be dirt on the track. Like for example, Turn 4, possibly Turn 9, dragging dirt on the track.

“And then with Turn 1, there is now the new pit exit, if you’re in a battle with someone into Turn 1, someone exits pit lane and could make things all very interesting.

“So, strategy is going to be a big, big thing in this race, they've removed the fuel drops. I don't think there's that much extra fuel to be put in the car, but it's going to come down to when you've hit the tyres.

“Expect to see everyone starting the race on a full tank, and then, it’ll work itself out from there."

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