Matt Stone Racing driver Garry Jacobson has hailed the introduction of new tyre rules, labelling the move “more sustainable” for the wider Supercars fan base.
Changes to tyre allocations have been trialled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen an immediate shake-up in the results.
Teams are now limited in their tyre allocation to just five sets of tyres to use across qualifying, a top 15 shootout, and three races.
Mixed compounds have also been used, with the most recent Sydney SuperSprint seeing each driver allotted two sets of soft compound tyres and three sets of hard tyres.
The forthcoming BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown will see soft tyres used throughout while the CoreStaff Darwin SuperSprint that follows will see mixed compounds.
Following the introduction of the new tyre rule set, Jacobson scored a career-best seventh place finish in the second of the Sydney Motorsport Park events.
The tyre rules have been criticised by front-runner Scott McLaughlin of the Shell V-Power Racing Team and Penrite Racing boss Barry Ryan.
Conversely, the rules have been praised by recent race winner Nick Percat and Kelly Racing owner-driver Rick Kelly.
Notable performances include that of back-to-back podium getter Lee Holdsworth and first-time winner Jack Le Brocq out of the Tickford Racing stable.
Andre Heimgartner also claimed his first pole position and subsequently claimed a second place finish for Kelly Racing.
Brad Jones Racing driver Todd Hazelwood recorded his first Supercars podium too.
Jacobson said the new rule set is a win for the wider Supercars fan base as more teams and drivers find their way to the front.
“We’re a racing industry, but we are also an industry where if the fans aren’t happy from left to right, for whatever team or driver they go for, if we don’t have a large spectrum of happy fans as an industry, I think we’ll struggle,” Jacobson told Speedcafe.com.
“We need to remember that we are entertaining people that pay money to come and watch us race. We’re an entertainment industry as well as a racing industry and it’s important to remember that there’s a balance of that.
“If a hundred percent of the fans were Red Bull or Shell V-Power then yeah, keep the rules the same. But there are other fans, there are other teams, there are other drivers, and there are other sponsors that are connected to every other car that Red Bull and aren’t Shell that are really enjoying seeing their teams and drivers get up the front and mix it with these guys.
“From a sustainable way of looking at the sport and its future; I’d find it more sustainable,” Jacobson said of the new rule package.
“There’s more potential to flick the TV channel on and continue to watch it from a larger spectrum of audience if the rules are like this, compared to what the rules have been like in the past.”
After a seven-race streak of podium finishes, including three wins, DJR Team Penske driver McLaughlin suffered his worst finish since Race 5 of the championship in Melbourne in 2018.
He attributed his 14th place finish at the most recent race of the championship in the Sydney SuperSprint to the tyre rule, which he said had “too much influence” on the racing.
Jacobson, however, has taken a different view of the situation.
The 28-year-old believes the Supercars champion will garner significant respect from their peers for putting together the most consistent results despite the tyre challenge.
“I think whoever wins this championship this year with the way the rules are, you’re going to get a lot of respect,” Jacobson said.
“You’re not just judged on who qualified the best and who started up the front. You’re going to be judged on yes, you’re qualifying results, but the way you are able to use your racecraft and navigate your way through the field and survive the races and limit your weaknesses.
“I think the championship driver of this year is going to have a lot of respect from their peers, from racing fans and racing drivers and other crew members alike.
“If you can win a championship with these tyre rules, I think it means more in my opinion. I think it’s a great change for the sport.
“If Scott or Shane can win with the rules like this, I’ll have even more respect for them, because this is going to be a challenging way to win a championship and it’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows, qualifying up the front and racing up the front every race,” he added.
“They’re going to have to grind it out. It’s enjoyable to see that bit and watch their racecraft and see how they make a weekend work.
“I think we’re going to see even more just how good a driver they are when they have to nurse a car home with a tyre that’s not as advantageous as someone else’s tyre and still beat them and find a way to beat them.
“I think I’m really excited about challenging the drivers that are up the front all the time and seeing how they mix it with other drivers. I think that whoever wins the championship this year is a really worthy competitor to win a championship in Supercars.”
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship continues with the BetEasy Darwin Triple Crown on August 15-16 at Hidden Valley Raceway.