Whincup keen on longer practice sessions
Friday 28th April, 2023 - 6:00am
Jamie Whincup is keen on longer practice sessions like that which will be held today at the Bosch Power Tools Perth SuperSprint – but with a twist.
Track action for the Repco Supercars Championship field at Wanneroo begins with a single, 90-minute session this afternoon, before the genuinely competitive action kicks off tomorrow morning with Qualifying for Race 7 of the season.
Outside of Super500 races and the enduros, it will be the longest session of the year, with even practice for the Bathurst 1000 being no longer than 60 minutes at a time.
The motivations for the unusual event schedule are both sporting and promotional, with teams given more time and freedom to learn about their still-new Gen3 race cars, while fans at the track and at home get more Supercars bang for their buck.
Whincup, Team Principal at Red Bull Ampol Racing, would support a broader rollout of the initiative if possible, but with laps capped at the number which a driver would normally complete under the usual format of two, half-hour sessions at a SuperSprint or Super500 event.
“For me, in an ideal world, you make the practice sessions longer but you restrict the amount of laps you do so you end up doing the same amount of laps as what you would do in two short sessions,” he told Speedcafe.
“Say you’re just going to do two, half-hour sessions – one hour of practice – let’s [instead] give everyone two hours of practice, but then restrict the laps to what you would have done anyway.
“It just gives everyone a bit more time to be able to get out of the car, go through the data, decide what change you’re going to make, and then get back in and test it.
“I think two hours of Supercars running, even though all the cars aren’t on at the same time, is good for the spectacle as well.
“If you come out on a Friday to watch the cars, you get two hours’ worth; yes, you only get the same amount of cars going past you, but you get two hours’ worth rather than one hour.”
Whincup anticipates that track time today “will be self-policed anyway”, given the high-degradation nature of Wanneroo Raceway and the fact that each driver is allocated just the usual two sets of ‘handback’ tyres.
Elsewhere, however, the limit on number of laps might be necessary to prevent teams spending time and money on track activity which would see each other’s gains cancelled out anyway.
“It only works when you restrict the amount of laps you do,” added the Triple Eight Race Engineering boss.
“If you don’t do that, at a low-deg circuit, you end up with cars doing twice as much running on the Friday, so we all just end up getting faster, everyone spends more money on running the cars, and there’s no real gain to it.”
A cap on the amount of laps is not unprecedented in Supercars.
One was implemented at Bathurst over a decade ago although, curiously, the threshold was 25 laps in a 50-minute session at a circuit with a lap time longer than two minutes anyway.
At Wanneroo, on the other hand, even the race lap record is under 54 seconds, and hence there is plenty of scope for teams to vary their run plans.
Session start is due at 14:25 local time/16:25 AWST.
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