New format passes first test at Symmons Plains
The V8 Supercars Championship’s new Super Sprint format enjoyed a successful debut at Symmons Plains, with race officials applauding drivers for largely avoiding the rolling restart carnage that many were predicting.
Although a scuffle towards the back of the pack saw Scott Pye’s Lucas Dumbrell Holden take to the infield grass, the double-file rolling restart was clean for the majority of the field.
As for the race itself, the two-part format provided an opportunity for teams to make minor tweaks to their cars between the 60km legs – a factor which undoubtedly helped Fabian Coulthard overtake Leg 1 pace-setter Jamie Whincup early in the second segment.
“It was a bit of a laugh,” Whincup said later of the format, despite ruing a set-up change that proved unhelpful to his chances.
“Everyone was locking up and going off and putting crap all over the track, it was all going on from my cockpit.
“I’m a fan of changing it up changing it up with a few different formats. I’m not a fan of weighting cars (success ballast) and those sort of stupid things, but changing the format up is a good thing.”
Although Whincup added that he felt the Safety Car had been traveling too slowly during the first of two formation laps after the break, and that the green flag for the restart was waved too late, chief steward Steve Chopping told Speedcafe.com that all procedures were followed.
“It took some management, but the drivers should be congratulated for their professional conduct in a difficult situation that could have been quite dangerous,” added Chopping.
Third place finisher Mark Winterbottom said he enjoyed the format, but suggested that the break – which the regulations say must be a minimum of 15 minutes – was too long.
“The break today was quite long so it allowed people to do changes, but I don’t think that’ll be the case every round, because it could be 15 minutes or it could be 21 or whatever it was today,” he said.
“It gave people a bit more of an opportunity to change their car but these cars take quite a while to make changes.
“It’ll be interesting to see a shorter break if it will just remain the same, but obviously some people got a gain and others didn’t in that gap.”
Not surprisingly, some at the back of the field, such as Lee Holdsworth, were less enthused about how the restart unfolded.
“I thought the new race format was confusing and I’m not sure anyone knew what was going on, there just seemed to be cars all over the place and I’m surprised everyone got through ok,” said, who was at the very back of the grid after being turned around in the opening heat.
“I think it could possibly get easier if we do it at other tracks and I think at a track like the Grand Prix (Albert Park) it probably would have worked quite well.
“At this track, when the front guys get the green flag and the boys tell us over the radio it’s time to go, you’re still coming through the last corner while the guys at the front are just about at Turn 1 because everyone in front of you is still doing 40km/h.
“But it’s all about the fans and what they want to see so I think if they enjoyed it we will keep it. I think it would be good if you were at the front, but at the back it’s not so good.”
Fans also expressed mixed views on the format via Speedcafe.com’s Facebook page, with comments ranging from “loved it” and “something a bit different” to “stupid” and “an absolute joke”.
The Super Sprint format is scheduled to appear at the Barbagallo, Hidden Valley, Queensland Raceway, Winton and Phillip Island events.