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T8 reluctant for changes after ‘self inflicted’ tyre failures

Tom Howard

Sunday 23rd April, 2017 - 4:00am

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Scott Pye was among a list of drivers to suffer a tyre failure in Race 5

Triple Eight is reluctant for special measures to be introduced for today’s WD-40 Phillip Island 500 heat after labelling the spate of tyre failures in Race 5 as ‘self inflicted’.

The Supercars Commission is due to meet this morning to determine if changes need to be made to address tyre concerns following Saturday’s 250km heat at Phillip Island.

Dunlop suffered more than 15 right sided failures during the race with the majority of the field affected except Triple Eight, Tekno Autosports and Erebus Motorsport.

While the reasons for the tyre issues are yet to be determined, aggressive set-ups are thought to have contributed.

Teams were warned about being greedy on set-ups prior to the race by Supercars Sporting and Technical Director David Stuart and tyre supplier Dunlop.

An investigation into the situation was launched on Saturday evening.

Having shown it is possible to race without tyre failures, Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton believes the category should avoid making changes ahead of Race 6.

However, he would reluctantly back a maximum recommended camber stipulation, if Supercars elects to adopt special measures.

“It’ll be disappointing if something’s changed for the race,” Dutton told Speedcafe.com.

“We didn’t do any magic, and we didn’t have any issues.

“We’re here to play sport, you can’t change that on the fly.

“If we look at the possibilities (for changes), which will be shortening the race, giving teams more tyres, or enforcing a maximum camber, then the max camber keeps the sport in it as much as possible, and forces people into doing a safe job.”

While recognising the danger of the situation, he says the responsibility lies with the teams to address the issue.

He feels the failures suffered by Craig Lowndes, Shane Van Gisbergen and DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard in Friday practice should have been noted by rival squads.

“The danger was self-inflicted by the teams, running the wrong set-ups,” he added.

“I can put a set-up on the car that will just destroy tyres, but you don’t (do it).

“Dave Stuart came around and spoke to all the teams, and warned everyone and obviously some people didn’t heed the warning.

“Nothing needs to be done from the series regarding the race. The teams have the capability to do it.

“We haven’t done anything crazy on our cars, the engineers have just done a good job of viewing the data.

“We learned the hard way on Friday, but the biggest problem is, everyone else in pit lane should have got a free-of-charge education from Craig’s shunt and failures for Coulthard and Shane.

“The teams are responsible (for safety), because if everyone had issues, then you’d have to look at it. Quite a few did but some didn’t as well.

“Motorsport is dangerous, (at) the end of the day, and we definitely don’t want to see anyone hurt, that’s why we have really safe cars and we keep trying to improve them.”

Will Davison agrees that teams should be more conservative on set-ups but is pushing for the tyre issue to be addressed before today’s race.

The Tekno Autosports driver was among a select group not to suffer a tyre failure, although he says his rubber was on the borderline.

The 34-year-old changed his driving style given the situation, but was nervous throughout fearing his tyres would fail.

“It was so evident after Friday that this was going to be a huge issue, so I’m surprised so many people have been caught off-guard with it,” Davison told Speedcafe.com.

“Some of it might be inherent in the DNA of their car design, it may not be as simple as camber or tyre pressure.

“People were just exploding tyres and every time you’re going through Turn 3, (or) the last corner, you’re just praying the thing’s not going to let go.

“I adapted my style a lot in the race to just take the load off that tyre, so it seemed to be working pretty well for us, but still very, very borderline.

“They’ll (Supercars) obviously try and put some minimum settings in place I would imagine, but it’s not a very comfortable feeling.”

Meanwhile, Prodrive boss Tim Edwards, who will be present in the meeting this morning, believes teams will have to be more conservative on set-ups.

“Clearly we’re going to have to go more conservative than we did, but we’re in the business of going racing,” said Edwards.

“You can say the drivers have an impact on it as well, and that’s true, but they’re trying to go as fast as they possibly can.”

Qualifying is scheduled for 1050 ahead of Race 6 at 1350 AEST.

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