Gen3 steering wheel fix ahead of Newcastle 500

Gen3 Supercars

Nick Percat negotiates a corner in pre-season testing at Winton. Picture: Shaun Tanner

Supercars has granted teams freedom to modify steering wheel layouts ahead of this weekend’s Thrifty Newcastle 500.

The Newcastle event marks the debut of the Gen3 ruleset, which is characterised by tightly controlled technical regulations, extending even to the steering wheel layout.

Problematically, the specification was to have included the drink button being located on the left-hand side of the wheel and hence next to the gearstick, while the radio button was next to that of the pit lane speed limiter.

Now, tweaks have been made to improve ergonomics, which have been welcomed by drivers.

Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Nick Percat told, “I’m not a hundred percent sure on all the detail but we’ve been able to move the drink button to the right-hand side.

“I think there’s potential to run the radio on the paddle like we normally would and free up our left hand for changing gears, which is good, and then we can also drink and then do all the normal stuff that we would.

“Supercars has obviously got a lot going on with aero and all that stuff so to be able to get that in for this round is really good from the drivers’ side.”

The benefits of the changes extend far beyond driver convenience.

There had been concerns about the welfare of the 25 steerers in the Repco Supercars Championship field given just how busy the Newcastle East Street Circuit is, with a high frequency of gear changes and/or turning which meant there would be precious little opportunity to drink.

That much is now fixed, although Percat expects that the nature of the driving challenge will still provide a stern physical test.

“It’s just more a concern of dehydrating yourself and being a bit fried come mid-race, and also the recovery into Sunday would be affected,” he explained.

“So, it’s [steering wheel] all good now and back to the normal brutal heat [of a] street track.

“We’ll still see drivers fatigued and fitness will play a part because these cars move around a lot more, and I think the way we’re driving them, we’re probably a bit more tense in the driver’s seat because we’re not quite sure what they do yet.

“So, I’m expecting some pretty fried brains come the end of Saturday just because of all the information coming in.”

The South Australian will roll out in his #2 Mobil 1 NTI Ford Mustang in Practice 1, which starts this morning at 11:15 local time/AEDT.

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