Percat: Current SuperSprint format no good for strategy

Nick Percat wants Supercars to bring back refuelling. Picture: Daniel Kalisz

Nick Percat is eager for Supercars to move away from its congested two-day race format and back to the three-day weekends of old to spice up the championship’s racing.

With the exception of its hallmark events, the championship has largely been based around a two-day, three-race format since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

In an effort to cut costs, events have been condensed with practice, qualifying, and the first race on Saturday followed by two races on Sunday.

Refuelling has been removed from all SuperSprint events necessitating each outing last no longer than the distance it takes to empty a tank of fuel – roughly 110km.

The rules now dictate that one compulsory pit stop be completed for a two-tyre change.

In effect, that sees two strategies play out; either pit early and look to yield an undercut, or, run long and hope to charge through the field late on fresh tyres.

Prior to COVID-19, Supercars events were typically three-day, two-race events with practice on Friday while qualifying and the weekend’s two, often longer races were split across Saturday and Sunday.

Percat wants Supercars to return to pre-pandemic event scheduling.

“I think the three-day events are better,” said the Walkinshaw Andretti United driver.

“I think the racing is better when there’s fuel strategy. It’s a bit of a procession now, the sprint format.

“It’s hard to pass because there’s no tyre advantage unless you get a Safety Car or something like that. The three-day events are better.”

Given sponsorship arrangements and other commitments, Percat said most drivers are trackside by Thursday in any case, thus travel and accommodation costs are largely unaffected.

With practice quickly followed by qualifying and the first race, a poor start to proceedings is hard to come back from – something Percat has known all too well about this season.

It’s a sentiment shared by a lot of teams and drivers up and down pit lane, CoolDrive Racing’s Tim Slade unable to bounce back from a slow start at the most recent round.

“We’re there on Thursday, half the time we’re there on Wednesday,” the Mobil 1 NTI Racing driver explained.

“I can’t see why we wouldn’t be on track on Friday and then just go back to the fuel races and actually spice up the racing because you can do something with strategy.

“Chaz [Mostert], he started 10th, but you’re actually getting no play. You either pit early with everyone else and end up in the train of people who pitted earlier, or go late and try and pass and you’ve got to have a car that’s good to pass with.

“I think having some more flexibility with strategy with longer races is the go. I honestly think it is a better show.

“Normally, it’s always spiced up with the longer fuel race. I think it’d be the better way.”

The Repco Supercars Championship resumes at Hidden Valley Raceway for the Merlin Darwin Triple Crown, a three-day event from June 17-19 featuring three no-refuelling races.

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