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McLaughlin: Sydney, Darwin show soft tyre needs more degradation

Simon Chapman

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Thursday 20th August, 2020 - 12:26pm

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Scott McLaughlin

Scott McLaughlin says Supercars’ events at Sydney and Darwin show its soft tyre needs to be even softer and suffer more degradation.

The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship will complete the second leg in its Darwin double-header this weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway.

Soft tyres will be used across the weekend, a change from the first Darwin event that saw a mix of hard and soft compound tyres.

Supercars has been open about its tyre experiment since the resumption of the season at Sydney Motorsport Park.

After trialling the soft-soft and soft-hard set-up at its Sydney SuperSprint events, the tyre allocation has returned for the Darwin double-header.

The first leg of the Darwin double-header saw most teams run soft and hard tyres on the Saturday before running solely on soft tyres for the duration of Sunday.

Teams discovered a lack of soft tyre degradation meant little time fall off, allowing teams to pit early and run through to the end of the 110km races, which were 15km shorter than the Sydney events.

Speaking during a media roundtable teleconference, including Speedcafe.com, the Shell V-Power Racing Team driver said he’d like to see Supercars run a softer tyre.

He said tha is especially pertinent for tracks that do not suffer the high degradation levels such as Sydney Motorsport Park.

“The soft tyre is just a better tyre for the racing,” said McLaughlin.

“If they were going to make a different tyre and if we’re going to have a different tyre our preference would be – like we’ve talked about a number of times – a softer, higher deg tyre.

“Who knows when that will happen or if that will happen.

“You just look at Sydney where there’s more degradation on the track,” he added.

“That made the racing a lot more exciting. The deg was higher, the disparity between the two tyres was different.

“The way that the tyre (degrades), the hards do hang on a little bit better than the softs so by the end of the soft period you can actually be just as fast as a soft on a hard.”

Team-mate Fabian Coulthard echoed McLaughlin’s sentiment, but said the use of soft tyres is track dependent.

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, every circuit on the calendar except for Mount Panorama and the New Zealand round of the championship would feature soft tyres.

Initially it was announced The Bend Motorsport Park would see hard tyres only, but that was later changed after the pre-season test showed the soft tyre could handle loads at the circuit.

“I definitely prefer the soft tyre, I think it’s a better tyre to race with,” said Coulthard.

“It’s got a little bit of deg and it works well with our cars. I think that’s important.

“It’s got to be track specific. Some tracks we go to don’t allow the soft tyre just with the loads and things like that.

“I guess we’ve got to keep that a factor. If we can race on the tracks that suit the soft tyre then I think that’s definitely a plus.”

McLaughlin said he is anticipating an “interesting” second weekend at Hidden Valley Raceway.

Teams will be allotted five sets of soft tyres to use across qualifying, a possible top 15 shootout berth, and the three 38-lap races – a maximum of eight sessions.

That, McLaughlin said, could see drivers take risks to conserve their tyre bank.

“It depends how fast your car is, but there will definitely be people out there trying to save tyres in qualifying,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be an interesting strategic battle, but a lot simpler than it has been in the past where it’s a bit more conventional.

“I think you could definitely see a bit more of a pace driven weekend. It’s not going to just be a couple of guys searching for glory. You’ll definitely see the faster cars up the front for longer.”

The CoreStaff Darwin SuperSprint takes place at Hidden Valley Raceway on August 22-23.

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