Sprint format under fire at Pukekohe
Leading Supercars drivers have criticised Pukekohe’s sprint format following today’s largely pedestrian races.
Pukekohe is the only championship event to run to the ‘International Super Sprint’ format of four 100km races with no pitstops.
Today’s races both took place without a single passing move inside the top seven after the first of 35 laps.
The lack of action was hardly a surprise following last year’s heavily criticised attempt at running Saturday races at all Super Sprint rounds without pitstops.
THE FINAL RACE OF THE 2023 REPCO SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP ON ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST STREET CIRCUITS. GO ALL IN AT THE VAILO ADELAIDE 500, CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS
After finishing third and seventh today, Kiwi driver Scott McLaughlin said that the races were a reminder of why the Super Sprint format was changed.
“I personally don’t like it,” he said when asked for his view at the end-of-day press conference.
“I understand why we do it (for Pukekohe) – saving costs, fuel rigs, all that sort of stuff – but I personally think the strategy always mixes it up.
“The races we’ve had across the year is just a testament to the series, and when you come here and go back to the old way we used to and how we had problems, it’s obvious why we changed.”
Jamie Whincup, who won the first of today’s races before trailing home Shane van Gisbergen in the second, gave a typically to-the-point response.
“Pit stops are good,” he said.
“We obviously prefer pit stops and I think we should do that over here.”
Chaz Mostert suggested that the lack of action today was partly due to drivers not being used to sprint racing.
The Supercheap Ford driver threw away a top 10 result with an unforced error in Race 24 before bouncing back to third in the second heat.
“It’s something a little bit different,” he said of the short races.
“We used to have the 60/60 (Super Sprint) races and see people having a real big crack to get past – there was a lot of action as well.
“We’re used to our format all year where we try and wait for pit stops to try and make a move on someone or wait for better tyres.
“Today, if you wanted to move forward you had to have a really big crack.
“You’re a bit more desperate than what you would be.
“We’ll see if anyone else makes the moves tomorrow, but like I said, we’re all in a bit of a routine from the last couple of rounds.”
Supercars’ International Super Sprint format was also used at this year’s Australian Grand Prix, where the category is only allocated 30 minute slots for its races.
It was due to be rolled out at Kuala Lumpur in August before the Malaysian event was cancelled.