Van Gisbergen: Following ‘worse’ in Gen3 cars

The race leaders in train heading up Watt Street in Newcastle

The race leaders in train heading up Watt Street in Newcastle

Shane van Gisbergen has suggested it is harder to follow in the Gen3 Supercars due to reduced grip.

Supercars as a category has claimed an approximate 63 percent cut in downforce over the previous cars.

That was a conscious decision to make the cars more reliant on mechanical grip and driver skill.

The opening race of the season in Newcastle proved a processional encounter with few overtakes throughout the 95-lap affair.

As a circuit, Newcastle has not been famed for overtaking, indeed quite the reverse, though the latest cars have done nothing to move that needle.

On top of the high tyre temperatures and sliding induced by the new generation of cars, the circuit was also littered with marbles ready to punish those who strayed off-line.

“It was probably worse because you’re sliding more in these cars and the temp are already cooked,” van Gisbergen said of the ability to follow in Gen3 machinery.

“Then you get behind someone and that just makes the tyres…

“So, probably worse than last year, but you can follow closely, like down the hill and the high-speed it was a bit better but the tyres are cooked more before you get close.”

It’s a view shared by Cameron Waters, who finished third behind the two Red Bull Ampol Camaros.

“It was hard to pass anyway,” the Tickford driver noted.

“You could follow a little bit better today with less downforce, you’ve got less dirty air, but what Shane touched on – once the tyre gets hot, you lose grip.

“It’s the same tyres as previously so don’t really expect anything different with the temp.”

Van Gisbergen and Waters formed part of a four-car train at the head of the race in the early stages, tucked in behind Brodie Kostecki.

A move by the two-time champ on team-mate Broc Feeney, who didn’t defend it, saw him progress a spot in the opening stint but further progress on the track proved difficult.

Instead, Triple Eight Race Engineering opted to short-fill the Kiwi at his first stop, handing him track position from which he was able to race clear, building a sufficient gap to emerge with the lead following the pit stop cycle.

A second 95-lap race follows tomorrow, set to commence at 15:20 local time/AEDT.

However, forecasts predict a strong chance of rain – some suggesting as high as 90 percent – developing into a thunderstorm in the afternoon/evening.

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