Penrite Racing CEO Barry Ryan believes that this year’s Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 could be decided in pit lane, leading to a highly unusual exercise at its pre-enduro test.
A number of competitors have tipped the Great Race of 2019 to be one of the fastest ever, in part due to an anticipated lack of Safety Cars, which will up the pressure on teams and drivers.
Erebus Motorsport has not been error-free in pit lane this year, a matter put in the spotlight by Ryan’s blunt comments on television.
The team has now adopted a new fitness regime in a bid to combat crew errors, but took matters a step further again at last week’s pre-Pirtek Enduro Cup test at Winton.
For the first time, Erebus went as far as installing the taller, Mount Panorama diff ratio in its pair of ZB Commodores after lunchtime just so its drivers could practice exiting their pit boxes as they would at Bathurst.
“We even put the Bathurst diff ratios in so the drivers could practice taking off out of the pit box because it’s a big difference to the Winton ratio,” Ryan told Speedcafe.com.
“All that stuff that they usually only get to practice Saturday at Bathurst and in the race, they practiced it (at the test) so they’re ready to go.
“(It) just made sense to us to give the drivers a little bit extra feel what it’s like when you take off with a tall diff ratio which does make a big difference, and a couple of practice starts and all the things that are going to get us an extra second or so in the race.”
Last year’s Bathurst 1000, currently the fastest on record, featured only three Safety Car periods for a total of six laps.
The race ran under green flag conditions from Lap 97 until the end, and winner Craig Lowndes headed runner-up Scott Pye by around eight second before he backed off on the final lap.
Ryan has no qualms about a possible repeat of the season’s earlier pit dramas, given that fuel tends to be the governing factor in enduro stops, but did note the importance of the compulsory rotor change at Bathurst.
“Usually the enduros are more like a Sunday (SuperSprint race) pit stop where it’s more related to fuel,” he pointed out.
“But obviously when they throw in a rotor change and pad changes at Bathurst are compulsory, you’ve really got to get that right.
“A lot of teams didn’t last year, and we did and we’ve got a really good, solid system so we probably did eight or so rotor changes (during the test) and they were all as quick as the driver change and with no risk, so we’re really targeting this year.
“It’s going to be ultra competitive to make sure if there’s two seconds to make up in pit lane in each pit stop, that’s 16 seconds at the end of the race compared to someone that has a few errors in their pit stop.
“It sounds silly for a six-hour race and we’re trying to make up 16 seconds somewhere but I reckon by the end of the race on Sunday it’s going to be that close.”
Practice 1 for this year’s event starts on Thursday at 0955 local time/AEDT.