Bigger & Better racing – Strategy
Today’s revised SuperSprint format at Symmons Plains is set to spice up the spectacle with strategy now a key part of the race.
Rather than two 60km races, Saturdays now host one 120km race with teams required to make one pit stop for four tyres after lap five.
When each car will take its stop – and whether it will take fuel on board – remains to be seen.
Some teams are expected to run the gauntlet with fuel consumption, while others will juice up to make it to the end of the race.
With grippy Dunlop soft tyres to run, and a high chance of a Safety Car at the deceptively tricky circuit, expect plenty of action for the first running of the Saturday race.
V8 Supercars sporting and technical director David Stuart believes the longer run is the way to go and creates a challenge for the teams.
“In my opinion it suits our cars better – it’s a longer distance and we’re a touring car category,” Stuart told v8supercars.com.
“We’ve got a compulsory stop in there to change four tyres because we’re racing on the softer tyre. The soft tyre is better grip and should provide a better racing spectacle.
“Particularly at this circuit, because of the time the guys spend at full-throttle, it means they’re going to be right on the limit of doing the race on a tank of fuel.”
It’s a 50-lap race, with average consumption 2.2 litres per lap. Each car has a 111-litre fuel tank.
It might seem simple – but electing to take fuel could mean spending more time in pit lane, and losing a possible personnel advantage.
Eight people are permitted for pit stops, with two playing roles related to refuelling. They could assist changing tyres to speed things up for those who decide not to refuel.
“You might see teams that will try and help their slowest wheel guy by helping him undo the wheel nut and take it off, and the other guy put it on,” Stuart explained.
“That will create different strategy options for different teams.
“If they think they can save a second or two seconds in the pit by doing that, and have to conserve fuel throughout the race … there might be some teams that won’t even have to conserve fuel.
“Either way, I think everyone will be on the limit.”
Sunday races are governed by a minimum fuel drop, which evens out consumption, discourages teams from running lean to the point of damaging engines and creates strategy options, as it requires two pit stops to complete.
But in Saturday’s case, a minimum drop has not been implemented as it would stifle strategy options.
The timing of the stop is also a consideration – some may choose to stop early if they think the soft tyre will last the distance and will aim to land the driver in clean air.
And look out for the safety car – it’s easy to go a lap down at Symmons Plains.
“This circuit throws up some really interesting racing – it should be a good show,” Stuart said.