Dutton: More strategy than in 20 years
By Mark Fogarty
Sunday 8th October, 2023 - 6:00am
Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton says teams are facing more variables in deciding a winning strategy for the Bathurst 1000 than they have in the past two decades.
Dutton’s view is that how refuelling rates and tyre life are managed will determine the outcome as much as sheer race pace.
The change to Gen3 has increased fuel capacity from 111 to 133 litres, extending stints between refills, with no minimum number of pit stops for the first time since 2012.
Adding to the potential strategy conundrum, the use of the new-to-Mount Panorama soft compound tyre’s durability may be more of a factor than fuel range.
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Balancing fuel mileage versus degradation of the grippier rubber – plus accounting for Safety Car periods – will be crucial, according to Dutton.
“There’s the size of the tanks, the refill rate, and we have the tyre life,” he told Speedcafe.
“There are a lot more variables than we’ve seen in probably 20 years on that side of the coin, so there’ll be a lot to play out.”
Team principal/co-driver Jamie Whincup thinks that adapting to an evolving strategy will be the key to success in the 161-lap Mountain marathon.
“I think we’ll keep the strategy close to our chest for now and work out what’s going to unfold as the day goes on,” Whincup said.
“It’s a little bit different with the extra capacity in the fuel tank this year, so the strategy is a lot wider than it normally is.
“So, I don’t think anyone knows exactly what they’re going to do and we certainly don’t know what our opposition is going to do.
“A good part about what’s going to unfold tomorrow is, that we don’t know what’s going to happen, which is great.”
Red Bull Ampol Racing has both its Camaros starting in the top 10, with Broc Feeney/Whincup second on the front row and Shane van Gisbergen/Richie Stanaway out of sixth spot.
Dutton was satisfied with the team’s Top 10 Shootout result after concentrating on race set-up.
“I’m extremely happy with that Shootout,” he said. “We’ve done brilliantly, really happy.
“We’ve been working predominantly on a race car. Of course, you still try and get the Shootout [pole position] – not going to pretend we don’t. But our main focus the whole weekend has been on a race car.
“So the last practice session before the Shootout, we did some more race car work and both cars were extremely fast, and the drivers were happy with them.”
However, strategy variables notwithstanding, Dutton is wary of the pace advantage pole-winner Brodie Kostecki has enjoyed since Thursday.
“Obviously, the pace that Brodie and Erebus have is legitimate and they’ll be super-strong,” he admitted.
“So we just have to make sure that we put our best foot forward, work as a team and minimise any mistakes.”