Past and present Super2 competitors have delivered mixed opinions on a new initiative whereby data and footage from the fastest lap is distributed across the field after each session.
While set-up information remains a secret, the driver inputs of throttle, brake, and steering, as well as speed and judicial camera footage, are sent to all teams following a vote on the idea by the Supercars Commission, according to the category’s official website.
Bryce Fullwood won last year’s Dunlop Super2 Series and would have been among those whose data was revealed at various times had the system been in place then.
Now in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship with Walkinshaw Andretti United, he believes that the initiative has merit but should not be for the front-runners, citing the 0.0020s margin which decided pole position in the season-opener in Adelaide as part of his rationale.
“If it were just for the rookies, or from fifth place back or something like that, I think that’s probably really good,” Fullwood told Speedcafe.com.
“But (Thomas) Randle and (Brodie) Kostecki qualified only hundredths apart at Adelaide, so if Brodie gets Thomas’s data, and Thomas doesn’t get Brodie’s, it’s kind of a leg up for Brodie.
“A (Tickford) car makes its speed differently to the Nissan, and a Triple Eight car makes its speed different to the Nissan as well, so the driver data is probably not necessarily a hundred percent comparable.
“But, say you were three tenths up on (the fastest) lap and you lost all of it in one corner or one sector, you’d go, ‘Hang on a minute, what am I doing here?’ and you would look at their video and go, ‘Oh okay, that’s what I’m doing here.’”
Kostecki set the fastest lap in every session other than qualifying on his way to two race wins in the South Australian capital and the series lead, but was not concerned about others seeing his data.
“It doesn’t really bother me too much,” the Eggleston Motorsport driver told Speedcafe.com.
“The cars can be different in certain parts of the track, so I’m just focusing on myself and trying to figure out where I can make my car better and where I can improve my driving.
“In the past, there have been big teams that have absolutely dominated Super2, and there are a few family teams here, so they’ve tried to equalise Super2 as much as possible, and try and help the rookies come through.
“No suspension stuff gets shared with any other team, (so) I think it’s a pretty cool initiative and it’s a good thing.”
Of the 13 drivers who raced in Adelaide, six are rookies, and four of those in single-car Super2 squads.
Josh Fife and Angelo Mouzouris are among the first-year drivers flying solo in the series, and both welcomed the initiative.
“It’s really helpful for the rookies, especially for me as well because I’m a single-car team,” Brad Jones Racing’s Fife, who has moved up from Super3, told Speedcafe.com.
“To have that, it’s a huge benefit, just to learn some of (the fastest drivers’) habits.
“We get the onboard footage as well, so that’s really big; we compare my footage to his footage and see what lines he takes and can see the braking markers.
“It helps a little bit with car set-up but mostly just my driving, just to gain as much experience as I can.”
Mouzouris, who won last year’s Australian Formula Ford title before linking with Triple Eight Race Engineering, told Speedcafe.com, “It’s really helpful, especially for one-car teams.
“You get to back-to-back your data, learn where you’re losing time and whatnot, (and) it’s a lot better than comparing to, say, main game data.”
Matthew White, whose team won the series with Fullwood last year and is this year fielding rookies Jayden Ojeda and Zak Best alongside Randle in its Altimas, described the data as “pretty meaningless” for MW Motorsport.
Elaborating on that remark, he told Speedcafe.com, “We’ve got a lot of data as it is.
“We’re fortunate we’ve got a pilot up the front, so we know where we’re fast, we know where we’re slow, we know where we need to find it.
“I see why they’re doing it because it does help the small, one-car operations, but I think the onboard (footage) would do as much as you need done.”
Terry Wyhoon of Image Racing, another team which counts Super2 as its primary program and which won races last year, is unequivocally opposed to sharing data.
“Do I agree with it? Not at all,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“It’s all very nice, but it’s not real racing when you do that. We’re here to race other people, not get their information on what they’re doing.
“There’s no chassis information there that you can use to go and tune your car up to make it the same, but when the boys looked at a qualifying lap and go, ‘It’s pretty much just there and there’, and they go, ‘Yeah, that’s where we are a little bit soft’…
“When you’re doing junior series, the skillset of the whole team is to bring drivers up and help them understand what’s going on with the car.
“We’ve got a close-knit group of people here and we’re working really hard to get the drivers up, and that’s where we should be getting good money coming in.
“A big team like Triple Eight, they’re just sending some of their junior engineers over just to have a go and learn a bit; now they’re getting data from the specialists.”
Both White and Wyhoon also argued that data such as car speed could encourage rookies to over-extend themselves with potentially damaging consequences.
The latter stated, “When a young kid says, ‘Oh, Jordan Boys, he’s 8km/h up on me through Turn 8; I’ll fix that,’ and then he goes out there and gets hurt because the car isn’t up to it or he’s approached it at the wrong line… That’s easily done.
“You might have set up the car so that it’s good around the rest of the track and then you go into the fast corner and… Gone.”
Ojeda is currently the leading rookie in fifth position in the series, with that battle now worth $100,000 towards the following season in Super2 after the introduction of a half-million-dollar prize pool for 2020.
Super2 was to have supported the Supercars Championship at Symmons Plains early next month, but its next non-postponed round is now Townsville in late-June.