Teams left frustrated by Bathurst tyre epidemic
Outside of its dramatic finish, the 2012 Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 will be remembered for the spate of tyre failures that hit all of the category’s leading teams.
Despite optimistic pre-race noises from those who had suffered at the hands of delaminations on their pre-marked rubber during the week’s practice sessions, it took less than 20 laps for the Dunlops to become the story of the race.
One-by-one the race strategies of the leading contenders were thrown into chaos as their left-side tyres fell apart.
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Even race winners Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell were not spared from the drama with the former being forced to pit for new rubber just 12 laps into his opening stint.
While both TeamVodafone cars were able to recover from their early problems, factory squads Ford Performance Racing and the Holden Racing Team were among those that saw their hopes dashed by the dramas.
FPR team principal Tim Edwards was left to lament the “random issues” that saw his two fancied cars fall by the wayside.
“Car #52 (David Reynolds/Dean Canto, which finished second) had exactly the same set-up as car #5 (Mark Winterbottom/Steven Richards) and #6 (Will Davison/John McIntyre), and #52 didn’t have a problem at all,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“There’s not much else you can do when you have such random issues with tyres. The reality is that the category has found more mechanical grip with the cars and we’ve reached the threshold.”
Former two-time Bathurst winner Richards was dismayed having seen his day’s work undone in the closing stages when Winterbottom was forced into a early sixth pitstop – necessitating a final splash and dash before the flag.
“It’s a frustrating race sometimes and it’s made all the more frustrating by the fact that these tyre situations just shouldn’t occur,” he said.
“It’s supposed to be a motor race and the tyres are supposed to be made to withstand the rigours of what gets thrown at them. It’s just not acceptable.”
HRT team owner Ryan Walkinshaw vented his frustration several times during the day via social networking website Twitter, adding post-race: ”I think it’s fair to say the real losers this weekend are Dunlop,” he said.
The control tyre supplier had urged teams to be careful with their race set-ups due to the 12-year-old tyre construction having difficulty coping with the loads placed on them by the speed of the current cars.
Track temperatures reached 45 degrees during the mid-point of the race, exacerbating the tyre weakness as teams experimented with increasing their starting pressures and staying off of the circuit’s kerbs.
Next year will see Dunlop introduce a new, 18-inch, tyre package to coincide with the move to the Car of the Future.