Broad approval for experimental parc ferme regulations

Symmons Plains saw new parc ferme regulations trialled

Team owners and drivers have given broad approval to the parc ferme procedures which were used for the first time at Symmons Plains while suggesting improvements to the regulations.

A multitude of competitors were canvassed throughout the Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint weekend, where teams were allowed to make only limited changes between each Armor All Qualifying session and corresponding race.

The regulations were introduced as something of a trial at Symmons Plains with another trial expected at the Ipswich SuperSprint at Queensland Raceway from July 26-28.

Kelly Racing team manager Scott Sinclair was one of several who had praise for the initiative.

“Great initiative by the category in my opinion,” he said.

“Look, whether it changes the outcome of the races it remains to be seen.

“I personally think it’s a great initiative and I think at times we overcomplicate this sport when we really don’t need to and this takes the complexity out of it and looking forward to seeing it roll out at more events.”

Walkinshaw Andretti United co-owner Ryan Walkinshaw welcomed the added challenge of a race weekend.

“Fundamentally I believe we should be doing more things to make more interesting racing,” he stated.

“We are a parity series, the cars are very, very close and in my personal view, even if it’s to the detriment of my team in some cases, I like that the sport is coming up with innovative ways where you’re going to allow more ability for humans to make errors.

“It becomes more of a team sport as oppose to a driver-centred sport that the fans seem to think it is.

“You’re going to have situations where you’re going to have teams that qualify really well, but their race car is not going to have the race pace to follow through in the race.

“And you’re going to have other teams that are not going to qualify really well, but maybe they’ve got a really good race car underneath them.

“I think it’s going to be exciting.”

Tickford Racing boss Tim Edwards, who played a role in the introduction of parc ferme in his capacity as a Supercars Commission member, likened the trial to that of knockout qualifying, which was trialled at Symmons Plains last year and has been rolled out for most SuperSprint races in 2019.

“So far it has been pretty positive,” he declared.

“As a category we shouldn’t be scared of trying things; we give it a try, a bit like the knockout qualifying we did in Tassie last year.

“You then consult with everybody, teams, fans, TV after the event, see what everybody thinks and then make a decision on what we do after you’ve got all that feedback.”

While most expressed positive opinions on parc ferme, several identified a need to tighten up the regulations in order to make enforcement easier and increase its impact even further.

In Formula 1, parc ferme applies from the start of qualifying until the formation lap of the race, and allows teams to do little more than add fuel, change tyres, bleed brakes, and make front wing tweaks.

Shane van Gisbergen claimed after Race 7 on Saturday that he had witnessed a team breaching the rules.

“I think the rules need to be a lot clearer around parc ferme,” he said.

“I think in F1, as soon as you drive out, your car’s under parc ferme. You can just do the front wing and the fuel or something like that.

“I think our rules need to be a lot stricter there because after one of the sessions I saw one of the teams with the wheels off, springs out, and stuff like that. That probably should happen like that.”

Mark Winterbottom had a similar view, favouring a move to parc ferme regulations similar to those in operation in F1.  

“I’m sure there are teams there that are just fixing something and tweaking it,” he said.

“I don’t like that side, I prefer them outside with a sign on them, we hop in the car, go to the grid and go racing. That’s parc ferme, that’s Formula 1 parc ferme.

“It would mix up the grids. I’m glad they’re trying. When you try you’ve got to listen to feedback and the fans will talk. If that’s what they want then we’ve got to listen.”

Brad Jones, team owner at Brad Jones Racing, is yet to be convinced by the concept.

“I think it’s ok. I think, however you qualify the car, that’s how you race it,” Jones told Speedcafe.com.

“Whatever you qualify with, then that’s what you start the race with. So, I feel like when you’ve got the ability in that hour and a half to tune the car a little bit, it changes things up a bit.

“But, it’s one race weekend so it’s a bit early to tell yet. We need to do another one, and then draw some conclusions.”

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