V8 Supercars teams look set to have a larger quantity of tyres to race with in 2011 as the category prepares for an increase in soft compound tyre races.
V8 drivers and teams are poised to compete in as many as seven full-Dunlop ‘Sprint’ tyre events – an increased from this year’s two at Queensland Raceway and Winton.
Speedcafe.com.au sources suggest that both the Middle Eastern events at Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, plus the street races at Hamilton, Surfers Paradise and Sydney could be soft-only races.
The implementation of more soft races comes after widespread praise – first introduced into the series on a limited basis in 2009. More passing and better races has led to greater entertaining – and now, there looks like they’ll be more of it.
It is understood that the control (hard) tyre regulations for the Clipsal 500, Phillip Island 500 and Bathurst 1000 will remain the same as this year.
To compensate for the stickier (and eventually slipperier) rubber, teams are likely to receive more tyres to their weekend allocation.
Team BOC driver Jason Richards, who finished third at the L&H 500 Phillip Island two weeks ago, told Speedcafe.com.au that more soft tyre races will be positive news for the sport as a whole.
“I think it’s great, I think the soft tyre thing is the best thing that the category has done in a long time,” he said.
Richards says that more soft races improves the chances of a random result, or an inexperienced driver being competitive.
“It will certainly improve the opportunity for newcomers, because the tyres are much easier to drive on,” he said.
“What we’re learning quickly is that the tyre is part of what makes these cars very unique. Once we put soft tyres on the cars, the guys who aren’t as experienced suddenly became more competitive. If you go through the results, many of the inexperienced guys punched above their weight. So from the sport’s point of view, it’s a positive.
“And this means that the current drivers need to be on their game, because otherwise, they’ll risk losing their drive.”
It is believed that only a couple of events would use both hard and soft compounds over a race weekend – something that Richards is not in favour of.
“I don’t necessarily agree with the half soft, half hard tyre rounds,” he said.
“You’re either flat out passing people at the start or you run out of tyres and they pass you back. It’s artificial. With the full soft tyres, you can make genuine passing moves and stop the car at the apex. You just can’t even consider that with the hard tyre.
“Generally, the soft tyre provides more action and there’s bigger changes in the race.”
Both Middle Eastern events (Events 1 and 2 on the calendar) are slated to run on softs. This year on the control tyres, the racing was universally viewed as processional. Richards says that punters should expect a mixed result, should the overseas openers start on Sprints.
“Man, that will be hard, particularly Bahrain,” Richards said.
“Abu Dhabi will be OK, but at Bahrain, even the hard tyre has a hard time.
“I guess there’s an element of thought that the surface there is better, so maybe it will look after the soft tyre, but I don’t think the softs will like the long corner radiuses. The cars will certainly be fast for a few laps!
“The person who wins the race may not be the fastest guy on the track. There’ll be a lot of tyre management going on.”
Expect confirmation on the Sprint tyres event allocation, along with the 2011 V8 Supercars Championship Series calendar, at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 next month.