Rushed van Gisbergen pit stop part of Triple Eight plan
Thursday 30th March, 2023 - 8:19pm
A rushed pit stop for eventual race winner Shane van Gisbergen was in fact part of Triple Eight Race Engineering’s plan to capitalise on a tyre rule loophole.
The three-time champion led for much of Race 3 of the Repco Supercars Championship at the Australian Grand Prix meeting, and was 2.5s up on second placed Brodie Kostecki when both pitted with one lap remaining.
They were much closer on the way to pit exit after the Triple Eight crew was spotted waiting for a tyre to put onto the right-rear corner of Car #97, and van Gisbergen would go on to take victory by less than four tenths of a second.
What both Triple Eight and Kostecki’s Erebus Motorsport had done, however, was spot a quirk in Supercars’ regulations which enabled them to stay on the same tyre compound and hence only change two tyres to meet the compulsory pit stop requirement rather than all four, because the race had been declared wet.
To do that, however, they had to dip into their stock of super softs for the remainder of the weekend, given they have four sets of each compound for as many races.
Van Gisbergen nursed his fresh rears for the final lap, but Triple Eight only opted for the trick when they saw Erebus do the same, as Team Manager Mark Dutton explained.
“We knew it [about the loophole], the whole race,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“Why that was a rush was because we did it with Broc [Feeney] on the lap before because we knew he was going to make up some positions.
“If you talk really rough numbers, a four-tyre stop is approximately eight seconds and a two-tyre stop is half that.
“So, if anyone’s within four seconds of you, then you needed to do the fast one if they did just two.
“But, you’ve got to reuse those tyres, so there’s a price, so we didn’t want to do that if we didn’t need to on 97.
“We saw DJ’s [Dick Johnson Racing] and Tickford put four hands on [and] we thought, ‘Hang on, we might be able to save some softs.’
“But then, at the last second, we’re looking down the lane and we could see Erebus were onto it, so that’s why we reacted to them.”
Van Gisbergen recounted, “I didn’t know we’re going to put new softs on. That was interesting, coming down pit lane and seeing two people and Dutton and no tyres.
“Then down pit lane, I figured it out and then saved for the whole lap because I knew I have to race on them tomorrow.”
Triple Eight’s Red Bull Ampol Racing Camaros finished first and fourth, bookending the Coca-Cola-backed Erebus Camaros of Kostecki and Will Brown.
Brad Jones Racing is also known to have pulled the trick, helping to push the Pizza Hut Camaro of Macauley Jones into 10th position at the finish and the Middy’s entry of Bryce Fullwood to 11th after the latter started 24th.
Erebus CEO Barry Ryan explained on broadcast, “It was brought up in Commission [meeting] last week and it was based on wet weather tyres, so there’s a bit of a loophole there, but they’ll probably close it tomorrow, I’d say.
“Well, they can’t close it this weekend now, but anyway, Adrian [Burgess, Supercars Head of Motorsport] gave us verbal permission and we know that’s powerful,” he quipped in reference to the Newcastle controversy over Triple Eight’s illegal cooling system installation.
The result keeps Erebus on top of the teams’ championship while, in the drivers’ standings, second-placed Kostecki has closed the gap to Walkinshaw Andretti United’s Chaz Mostert.
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