Supercars drivers left with ‘no idea’ after ‘random’ Gold Coast kerb strikes
Friday 28th October, 2022 - 6:37pm
The fastest Supercars drivers in practice at Surfers Paradise have been left confused after what they claim is inconsistency in the track’s kerb sensor system.
Both half-hour sessions on the opening day of the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500 saw a spate of kerb strikes up and down the Repco Supercars Championship field, and the pace-setters were not unaffected.
The Shell V-Power Racing Team’s Will Davison, who topped the opening session and was beaten to Practice 2 honours by 0.0182s said he was left confused and frustrated by matter.
“Today was one of the more confusing ones I’ve had here over the years,” he said.
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“It’s an issue here – we collectively are all trying to find a good solution so I don’t want to sit here and shitcan it too much – but it was very frustrating from my end today.
“It seemed to change a lot. Whether it’s changing your car so it sits up on two wheels more… but certainly I’d get cuts at the end there and I wasn’t cutting the corner, but I couldn’t set it off in the first one.
“It is annoying because I literally drove around on new tyres and you’re just thinking about how not to set it off and you don’t really know where your reference is.
“You just go conservative in the end, just to get a lap on the board.
“So, a bit annoying because it’s fun, it’s really fun through the chicanes – the cars sit up beautifully – but sometimes it’s just a bit of a lottery.”
The stakes are even higher this weekend given a Top 10 Shootout will be held before each of the 250km races, at a circuit where passing is difficult.
Asked by Speedcafe.com about that balancing act, Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters, who set the very fastest lap of the day, was blunt.
“Just guess and hope that we don’t set them off, to be honest,” said the Monster Energy Mustang pilot.
“I think that’s the frustrating thing. The point that we’re trying to make is, you know, we drive the car to a point everywhere, with a bit of braking or where we turn or where we pick up the throttle… We kind of dictate where all that is.
“But with the kerbs, we feel like we can’t set them off consistently, and drive to that.
“So, we’re all doing different things, and they’re all setting off at different times, and we can’t drive to them consistently; I think that’s more what we’re trying to get at.”
Championship leader Shane van Gisbergen, who was third-quickest for the day, said he had a promising lap ruined by a kerb strike.
“I did a mint first sector, got a bit more angle at Turn 1, and popped the kerb sensor,” recounted the Red Bull Ampol Racing driver.
“So, it’s the same argument we have every year, which is a shame that we haven’t improved that after all this time.
“It is what it is, same for everyone, but I don’t know, it feels random [but] at the same time it’s not.”
He added, “It’s very confusing. As drivers, you don’t know where the line is, so you kind of just wing and hope.
“A few times there I cut and didn’t get a kerb hop, so I’m very confused.
“I just drive around and if they tell me it’s got a cut or hop, it’s got a hop.
“You just have no idea in the car when you’re hopping or not.”
There are kerb hop/shortcut sensors at Turn 2, that being the right-hander in the middle of the front chicane, as well as four at the Beach Chicane, from Turns 7 to 10.
Supercars has used some combination of tyre bundles, bollards, and sensors for years now, although the Gold Coast has tended to be a controversial location with respect to kerb strikes.
Ironically, it is Davison who holds the race lap record dating back to 2011, when bollards were removed and sensors turned off.
However, that was not the only issue today, with a bizarre misplacement of tyre bundles at the Beach Chicane in Practice 2.
An early red flag for an unrelated incident was elongated when bundles had to be repositioned after being pushed back for an earlier Carrera Cup session, then not restored to their original spots, something which van Gisbergen noticed from within the race car.
“They pulled them back for the Porsches – I think the Porsches were doing radiators – and then I spoke to Pauly at Supercars [presumably Paul Martin, from the Motorsport Department] after and he didn’t even know,” said the New Zealander.
“So we did all the first section of the session and everyone was popping the kerbs because the tyre bundles have moved and Supercars didn’t even know.
“Had the red flag, they put them back to the kerbs, and it was back to normal.”
Van Gisbergen confirmed, however, that his early off at Turn 11 was simple driver error, when asked to clarify that specific matter by Speedcafe.com.
He is close wrapping up a second straight drivers’ championship title as soon as tomorrow, with a lead of 567 points over nearest rival Waters and 600 more on offer this year.
Qualifying for Race 31 of the season takes place tomorrow from 11:25 local time/12:25 AEDT, with a Top 10 Shootout to follow later in the day.