Maintaining life with the hard compound tyres will be paramount as V8 Supercars teams tackle a packed weekend of sessions in the ITM 400 Auckland at Pukekohe Park.
Notorious for sapping the life out of the left rear tyres, the Pukekohe meeting today ratchets up another level with two qualifying sessions, a top 10 shootout and two 35-lap races.
The shootout will be determine the order for the first five rows in the opening race with a further two qualifying sessions and a duplicate schedule on Sunday.
As per the previous round at Symmons Plains there are no pit stops, however teams will be closely monitoring their tyre useage throughout the packed schedule.
There are no pre-marked tyres and only 28 new hard Dunlop rubber shoes are available across the weekend.
In the aftermath of the 4×30-minute practice sessions it was difficult to determine the strategy of tyres used.
Mark Winterbottom, the overall fast man from practice, explained that on the surface it should be manageable however conveyed some caution when throwing forward to the demanding track schedule.
“It’s not too bad compared to the soft tyre we have been running as the hard tyre lasts a whole lot longer,” Winterbottom said.
“35 laps around here won’t be too bad. At the moment it seems okay. I did my best lap on the last lap before we put better tyres on and I was pretty happy.
“So we will see what happens when you don’t get a break (no pit stops) and it’s stop start.”
Fabian Coulthard (Lockwood Commodore) was third overall in practice after coming off the back of his twin wins at the Symmons Plains round.
Coulthard says that Sunday will reveal which drivers may face a shortage of a decent set of tyres.
“We just have to manage the tyres the best we can,” Coulthard told Speedcafe.
“Practice was very hard to evaluate with people who put what tyres on when. You will find out in the last race on Sunday who used what tyres and who shot their bolt too early.”
“With the allocation we have got there is enough to have one hit with greens in each qualifying session. But it doesn’t leave you too many tyres to play with.
“We’ve just got to look after the tyre in the races.”
It will also be a telling day for the Erebus operation with Lee Holdsworth ending up 10th overall in practice in the IRWIN Tools Racing E63 AMG.
Amid encouraging signs for the Merc driver, qualifying will be crucial as to whether Erebus has begun turning the corner in their pursuit to be competitive.