Drivers critical of Surfers kerb system

Friday 24th October, 2014 - 7:50pm

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James Courtney attacking the beach chicane

James Courtney attacking the beach chicane

The leading drivers from practice at the Castrol Edge Gold Coast 600 have spoken out against the latest system implemented to police kerb hopping.

This year has seen tyre bundles return to the circuit’s chicanes, used in unison with electronic detection sensors.

While large inner kerbs also remain inside the apexes, the kerbs that had been installed at 90 degrees to the road are no longer in use after causing widespread damage over the last two years.

Drivers recording four infringements in practice were handed a 60 second pitlane penalty, with each corresponding lap time also deleted.

The same punishments are slated for qualifying, while the fourth strike in the races will yield a drive-through penalty.

A total of 29 penalties were handed out across today’s four practice sessions.

The Turn 1 tyre bundle also caused the day’s only red flag after it was dislodged onto the circuit late in the final hit-out.

Pace-setter Shane van Gisbergen lamented what he perceived as a lack of consistency in the triggering of the sensors.

“On the last lap I just went stupid and was waiting for the call (to say that I’d infringed) the whole time,” he said.

“Earlier in practice I was taking half a car width and was getting a strike, (but) sometimes I was four wheels over, making a mistake, and it wouldn’t ping me. It’s a pretty average system they’ve got.

“The tyre bundles are enough to restrict it on the back straight I think (without the sensors).”

The Turn 1 tyre bundle caused the day's only red flag

The Turn 1 tyre bundle caused the day’s only red flag

Second and third fastest men James Courtney and David Reynolds said that officials should choose between the bundles or the sensors.

“I think what they’ve done is a bit of overkill,” said Courtney.

“We should pick one and stick to that system.

“If they’re bringing people through pitlane in the race then it’s going to absolutely kill it.

“We’re here to race, not drive through the pitlane and I’m sure the spectators don’t want to see that (penalties).”

Added Reynolds: “I don’t mind the tyre bundles but they’ve got to pick one system, either kerb strikes or the tyre bundles.

“I don’t like this system because it’s hard as a driver to judge.”

Despite his car receiving four penalties during the day, Nissan’s Rick Kelly was among those defending the system.

“It’s always been such a hot topic around here but I think they’ve found a good solution at the moment,” he said.

“You don’t want people taking the piss, you want it to be a fair race and I think they’ve achieved it (fairness) so far.

“The only issue is the second one (Turn 2 sensor, which is not coupled with a tyre bundle) is very easy to cut and if you come around Turn 1 too quick you either decide to go in the fence or cut the kerb.

“It’s a juggling act finding the right amount of kerb hops before they give you a penalty in the race, but I’m sure they’ll come up with something fair.”

The fact that unserved penalties carry over to the following session saw Kelly deliberately gain a fourth strike during Practice 4 so that he did not hinder his chances in tomorrow’s qualifying.

“I already had three strikes so we decided to get the fourth before running the set of greens,” he explained.

“If I’d got the penalty in the last couple of minutes I’d have the penalty for qualifying and we couldn’t risk that.

“Unfortunately we had a spike drama (air spike that operates the car’s onboard jacks) and couldn’t get back out on greens, but that was our own issue.”

The problem saw Kelly end the day 17th fastest, separating Nissan team-mates Michael Caruso and James Moffat.