Difference of opinions over live Supercars pit lane order
Monday 24th April, 2023 - 6:00am
A multitude of opinions have emerged as to whether or not a ‘live’ Supercars pit lane order should be adopted.
Pit lane order would be determined on the basis of the teams’ championship standings at the end of the previous event if an idea which came to light in recent days is adopted by Supercars.
At present, the teams’ championship is already the primary determinant, but on the basis of the previous year’s results.
As such, pit lane order is locked in for the season with rare exceptions, whereas the ‘live’ idea would mean change from event to event, particularly in the early stages of the season.
The concept has in fact been around for several months or even years, and has not been ruled out for 2024, but not all are in favour.
PremiAir Racing Team Principal Matty Cook, though, is a supporter, telling Speedcafe, “We were all for it.
“It was a shame [it did not come to pass]; it could have meant that, for instance, Erebus now would be in Garage 1 and 2 and how good would that be for them?
“It was good, everyone was all for it, it would have shaken it up a bit, but it didn’t happen.”
PremiAir was last of the two-car teams in its debut, 2022 season, but is currently eighth in the teams’ championship and hence would set up four booms higher up the lane this week at Wanneroo Raceway under the live order than under the current system.
Triple Eight Race Engineering, on the other hand, would drop from the first boom and pair of garages to the second.
Its boss, Jamie Whincup, is firm in his opinion that the idea is a bad one.
Firstly, he reasons that it would devalue the teams’ championship, which the Banyo-based squad has won for the past two seasons and 11 times in total.
However, Whincup also noted that not having regular ‘neighbours’ in pit lane, as Triple Eight has in Dick Johnson Racing/DJR Team Penske on one side or the other for a sixth year in a row now, would make for a less safe working environment.
“We all battle hard for the teams’ championship as a reward to be further up in pit lane positioning, so it’s just going to devalue the teams’ championship,” he told Speedcafe.
“But on top of all of that, the biggest thing is that pit lane safety is paramount.
“You actually get a rapport with the teams beside you, you end up having a relationship and understanding with the team before and after you, and you actually can cooperate through pit lane much better, having a common person in the pit lane garage before or after.
“If you want to throw that around every weekend, it could potentially end up just being a mess and could create more issues in pit lane, which is exactly what we don’t need.
“So, I’m completely against it for those two reasons.”
Erebus Motorsport is currently on top of both the drivers’ and teams’ championship.
Its CEO, Barry Ryan, is largely indifferent, but noted that the existence of four-car operations in Brad Jones Racing and Tickford Racing are a hurdle.
Their quartets are currently bunched in pit lane, notwithstanding that they are separate two-car ‘teams’ for the purpose of that championship.
“I was definitely in the meetings when we were talking about it and it’s definitely a positive situation,” Ryan told Speedcafe.
“We’ve probably been talking about it for a couple of years now.
“I think the biggest issue is the four-car teams; they won’t want to separate and I get that, because their operations work together.
“You’ve got combined catering, you’ve got combined spares, you’re not going to separate those two, so separating those two four-car teams is the biggest thing.
“But it’s also an opportunity for an odd number like Blanchard’s to be able to move up a bit if they do a good job and they deserve to not be at the end of pit lane all the time.
“It doesn’t really worry me. If we win the championship and then keep winning races next year, then we’ll stay at the front of pit lane, but it’s all down to just keeping on doing a good job. That’s all we need to do.”
‘Blanchard’s’ is the Blanchard Racing Team, the only full-time single-car squad in the Repco Supercars Championship.
Under the ‘live’ idea, it was also suggested that such competitors might have their pointscore scaled up for the purpose of the exercise, whereas those squads currently receive no such allowances.
Team owner Tim Blanchard is less concerned about the possibility of a live pit lane order than he is about being given a genuine opportunity to move up the lane.
“I think the teams’ championship needs to be a fair championship for all teams and obviously it affects the pit lane order,” he told Speedcafe.
“When we joined the series and went on our own, it wasn’t an odd number of cars in the championship.
“Supercars made that decision under the old guys and we’ve been vocal in our desire to move to a two-car team so it’s not like we’re holding back, so it’s a good option to make things fair for us because we are massively compromised by being a single-car team.
“There were a number of times last year in qualifying sessions where other teams in pit lane would get two or three laps on a qualifying set of tyres and we’d only get one or two because of the way the pit lane order works.
“Then you’ve got the racing and the effect it has under Safety Cars and we’re often on the rough end of the stick.
“I think there needs to be a change but whether it’s the live pit lane or you make the teams’ championship an average of the cars that we’re running, I’m not fussed.”
READ MORE: How other major championships decide pit lane order
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