V8 Supercar bosses have been derided for introducing penny-pinching regulations to cut the amount teams spend on racetyres, rules which compromise the competitive integrity of a race weekend and make parts of it meaningless, according to a former champion driver.
Ex-Formula One test driver James Courtney won the title for Dick Johnson Racing in 2010 but now drives for the Holden Racing Team and is one of the sport’s leading lights. He says the drive to cut costs and restrict the number of sets of tyres teams have at their disposal during a race weekend makes no sense in the overall context of the millions of dollars being spent on putting on the show.
Courtney, who finished third in the opening 60/60 race of the weekend at Hidden Valley, was echoing the views of many of his rivals bemoaning the fact that the tyre stipulations mean they often have to race, qualify and, more regularly use the Friday practice sessions (when they should be accumulating data about the circuit and setting up their cars for optimal performance) running on old or unsuitable rubber, sometimes even using wet weather tyres in dry conditions as they need to save their best rubber for the race.
The old tyres do not perform as well, and the information generated from their performance is of little use when they are trying to set up their vehicles for maximum pace and performance in race conditions.
”I think its crazy. The teams are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to be here. For the show, what’s another couple of thousand dollars, ” Courtney said in Saturday afternoon’s post race press conference.
”You are trying to save tyres when you are trying to develop the car, it slows you down. We really need to have a look at this for next year.
”It makes Friday a waste of time, its stupid. There’s no real strategy, as no-one knows what tyres anyone else is on.”
Drivers wanting to burn rubber is, of course, not a surprise, and Courtney is expressing a view that racecar pilots have expressed for decades and team bosses and category organisers always braced against. Drivers want the best of everything, immediately and as often as possible, while the people that run the teams and the sport want to reduce costs while retaining it as an entertainment.
The first of the weekend’s three races at Darwin’s Hidden Valley circuit is a case in point where entertainment is at the heart of the event’s design. Scheduled as a 60/60 event it is effectively two separate 60 kilometre races run as one. The difference is that the first 60 kilometres is the half way mark and carries no points or glory. After an interval of 15 minutes there is a rolling restart where the cars blast off two abreast in the order in which they finished the first section, racing then to the finish where the winner takes all.
For young Ford racer David Reynolds it had been a tremendous day up to the restart of the second race. He had taken pole, and won the ”first half” from Whincup. But the champion got past him shortly after the start of the second heat, and Reynolds misery was compounded when his team-mate, Mark Winterbottom crashed into him near the finish, putting them both out of business.
Shane Van Gisbergen, in a Commodore, and Courtney, in the HRT Holden, inherited second and third spots as a result.
That was not the only damage in a race in which a number of high profile drivers, including Whincup’s team mate Craig Lowndes, crashed and damaged their vehicles.
There was also controversey before the start of the race when Whincup’s Red Bull pit crew were allowed to fill up the ice box for his cool suit (which keeps the drivers temperature down as the cars overheat during a race) after the appointed time.
Ford Performance Racing boss Tim Edwards (whose drivers Reynolds, Winterbottom and Will Davison were all likely to challenge Whincup during the race) expressed his anger that V8 stewards gave the Red Bull crew the all clear to run out and fill it, saying the decision was”a disgrace, they made an exception for one team”.Roland Dane, Red Bull Racing owner, said there was no case to answer: ”We got permission. We either have or have not got permission. We asked permission to do it and we got it.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.