Wheel issues a focus for Supercars teams ahead of AGP

A Grove Racing pit stop in Newcastle

A Grove Racing pit stop in Newcastle. Picture: Ross Gibb Photography

Wheels remain a focus for Supercars teams ahead of the Australian Grand Prix after issues which were experienced in the competitive debut of Gen3 in Newcastle.

The new wheel package proved to be troublesome in pre-season on two fronts, specifically the tendency for the new circlip to pop off and also the not infrequent difficulty experienced in trying to fit a cold wheel onto a hot hub.

The former issue was addressed with a modification to the circlip itself after several solutions were trialled during testing, while wheels were machined to make more room to deal with the thermal imbalance.

Nevertheless, both dramas reared their heads again during the Thrifty Newcastle 500, at a number of teams.

For the most part, there was no impact on the sporting outcome given fuel fills covered tyre changes, but no such luxury will exist when the field races at Albert Park at the end of the month.

Speaking after a drama for James Courtney’s #5 Ford Mustang in Saturday’s encounter in Newcastle, Tickford Racing’s Tim Edwards surmised that it could have been caused by the smallest of discrepancies.

“It’s just a tolerance thing,” he told Speedcafe.com.

“We’ve already changed some of the tolerances and if that’s one upright on one of our cars, then we need to have a good investigation of that.

“It could have a drive peg that’s 0.1mm bigger than the others or something like that, so clearly on that upright, there’s a tolerance issue on that one, and because it’s all very tight, it’s just enough to tip it over the edge.”

At Grove Racing, David Reynolds did lose time with a snag on the right-front corner of his #26 Mustang in Race 2, although was effectively a moot point given he exited pit lane just ahead of Broc Feeney and then used a tyre advantage to quickly pick off James Golding for third, where he remained for the balance of the contest.

“One was actually a wheel going on the spindle on Saturday – the wheel wouldn’t go on and then we couldn’t get it off – and then [Sunday] was a wheel nut,” Team Principal David Cauchi told Speedcafe.com.

“[We are] definitely working hard over the next few weeks to sort that out before [the] grand prix.”

Walkinshaw Andretti United also had wheel trouble on the opening day of the Newcastle 500 meeting, although that was put down to the practice rims having not been machined at that point.

Teams must change all four tyres during each of the four races which make up the Beaurepaires Melbourne SuperSprint at Albert Park, swapping from the hard compound to super soft or vice versa.

Qualifying for Race 3 on the Thursday afternoon will be run on the hard compound, followed immediately by Qualifying for Race 4 on super softs, and similarly again on Saturday morning for Qualifying for Races 5 and 6.

Track activity starts on Thursday, March 30.

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