20 APR 2017
Supercars teams face toughest tyre test of the year
Entrants in this weekend's third round of the Virgin Australia Supercars Series will face their most demanding test of the year when it comes to tyre wear in the WD-40 Phillip Island 500 on the fast and flowing Victorian circuit.
The 450m front straight of the 4.5km circuit is the only time where a car's steering wheel is completely straight, offering no lateral loading to the front Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres.
The Supercars move back to the Soft tyre for this weekend's round after the Super Soft compound was replaced in virtually every session with wet weather tyres in round two at Symmons Plains in Tasmania two weeks ago.
Teams have data in the bank with the Soft compound after kicking off the season with the new tyre at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide on March 2-5.
At the opening event, both the track qualifying and lap records were broken and similar performance gains are also anticipated this weekend if there are favourable weather conditions.
Scott McLaughlin set a new Phillip Island track qualifying record with a lap of 1:30.4880s in his Volvo last year.
The existing track record has been in place since six-time series champion Jamie Whincup set a 1:32.0246s in his VF Commodore in 2013.
The 26 cars in the Supercars Championship will have 28 new soft tyres for the weekend which will include 250km races on Saturday and Sunday. A total of 728 tyres for the weekend.
Entrants in the Dunlop Super 2 category will have eight hard tyres for the weekend which will include four 16-lap races across Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY
KEVIN FITZSIMONS - SUPERCARS OPERATIONS MANAGER, DUNLOP
"Phillip Island will be the toughest test of the year for the new Dunlop Sport Maxx tyres because of the huge and constant lateral loads," said Fitzsimons.
"Basically, the steering wheel is straight for the 450m of the main straight and that is it.
"The rest of the time they are leaning on the front tyres - so for more than four kilometres they are loading the tyres one way or the other.
"You cannot be too aggressive on set up at The Island because the constant loads will cause issues and the teams are well aware of that. Whoever gets their tyre management accurate will be right in the fight.
"There are also a lot of variables at Phillip Island like the wind off the ocean which can create a whole lot of understeer at turn one as the air gets under the car.
"Drivers also have to be careful coming onto the main front straight. If they are too close to the car in front the limited downforce can also create higher front tyre temperatures."
LOU MANDANICI - VICE PRESIDENT CONSUMER PBU & WHOLESALE ANZ
"After a couple of championship rounds and non-championshIp races at the Australian Grand Prix the feedback about the new Dunlop Sport Maxx tyre has been tremendously encouraging," said Mandanici.
"Obviously the rain limited the overall feedback on the race tyre in Symmons Plains, but the Soft compound will get a real workout at Phillip Island which is one of the world's great race tracks.
"All indications are that some good weather at Phillip Island this weekend will see the current lap and qualifying records under threat."