Mark Winterbottom expects strategy to decide this weekend’s Perth Super Sprint with tyre management set to be even more of a factor at Barbagallo Raceway.
The Western Australian circuit’s abrasive surface has provided a unique challenge to Supercars teams as they battle to prolong tyre life during the scheduled 120km and 200km heats.
Tyre degradation is expected to be much more severe this year courtesy of a new-for-2017 tyre construction and a softer compound compared the hard tyres allocated last year.
Given the unknown surrounding the performance of the tyres at the circuit, Winterbottom believes teams will be under pressure to ensure the correct strategies are deployed.
Perfecting strategy was highlighted 12 months ago when a bold two stop call from Ludo Lacroix helped Craig Lowndes scythe his way from 22nd position to victory in the final 20 laps.
“The use of strategy and using the tyre at the right time and any bits of experience you can lean on will work quite well in Perth,” said Winterbottom.
“You can race all day and not actually see the competitor until the end and that was what happened last year.
“It is really rewarding when you get it right but frustrating on the flip side because strategy can purely win that race.
“Perth with really low tyre pressures is tough so we are going to see higher degradation than ever.
“The tyres are going to be another talking point but from a different point of view. Tyre life is what is going to win the race in Perth.”
Prodrive heads west off the back of a one-two finish after Chaz Mostert led home Winterbottom in Race 6 at Phillip Island.
Mostert echoed his team-mate’s thoughts on the tyres while confirming that fine-tuning set-up will be crucial in helping preserve the tyres.
The 25-year-old has been encouraged by the improvement in car speed on the #55 Supercheap Auto Falcon, but admits his team cannot afford to rest on its laurels.
“The track is one of the hardest ones we go to,” said Mostert.
“It has the highest degradation so it is going to be very tricky to get a car to look after the tyres and hopefully go for long stints.
“Where we roll out (set-up wise) from the start of the weekend compared to the finish can be a long way from where we actually started.
“The things we have been doing have definitely been improving the car.
“We have changed our approach completely from what we have done in the last couple of years.
“It is still very early days as we have competed in three championship rounds.
“It’s good to be where we are at the moment but saying that we need to keep building on this and keep pushing.”
The Perth Super Sprint begins on Friday with opening practice scheduled for midday local time.