The varied track surfaces at Tasmania’s Symmons Plains Raceway will be one of the constant challenges for teams in this weekend’s second round of the Virgin Australian Supercars Championship, according to Dunlop’s Supercars Operations Manager, Kevin Fitzsimons.
Teams will race with the new Sport Maxx Super Soft compound in championship conditions for the first time at the Tyrepower Tasmania Super Sprint this weekend after the chance to ‘test’ in race conditions at the non-championship event at the Rolex Australian Grand Prix last month.
While teams relished the opportunity to test the new compound, the smooth flowing Albert Park track is much different to the ‘patchy’ Symmons Plains surface which has undergone many and varied facelifts since its official opening in 1960.
The unique layout of the 2.41km rural circuit will also require teams to manage constant ‘drag’ on the left-hand rear tyre which comes under regular loading during race conditions which produce constant sub 53-second lap times.
Fitzsimons has predicted, weather dependent, that almost every Supercar qualifying and lap record would be under threat this season with the new Sport Maxx Soft and Super Soft tyre construction.
Both records were smashed in the opening round at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide, while DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard set a new qualifying mark in the non-championship event at the AGP.
Jamie Whincup set a new Symmons Plains qualifying record of 50.9676 seconds in a Commodore VF on his way to a record sixth title in 2014, but the lap record of 51.4713 seconds was established by Rick Kelly in a VE Commodore back in 2009.
Whincup has been the most successful Supercar driver at Symmons Plains with 11 race wins while the late Peter Brock still maintains the record for the most number of poles with eight.
Dunlop transporters and two shipping containers departed Melbourne by boat for Tasmania on Saturday and arrived yesterday before being moved by road to Symmons Plains which is 30km south of Launceston.
Each Supercars Championship team will be allocated 24 Super Soft tyres for the weekend, but four of those will need to be handed back after practice on Friday.
They will also have a maximum of 12 wets from qualifying onwards, providing a total of 624 dry-weather and 312 wets for the weekend.
The inclusion of the Dunlop Super2 category will see another 276 dry hard compound tyres and 184 wets prepared for the 23 entrants.
With the addition of a few spares, Dunlop technicians will be working with more than 1400 tyres this weekend.
WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY
KEVIN FITZSIMONS – SUPERCARS OPERATIONS MANAGER, DUNLOP
“The AGP weekend was important for teams to gather on-track data and to see how far they could push the new Super Soft tyre without putting any championship points at risk,” said Fitzsimons.
“There will be a few more variables thrown in this weekend like the many and varied changes in track surface with several sections being re-surfaced at different times during the years.
“The one element the teams will be conscious of is the ‘dragging’ of the left rear tyre around the unique Symmons Plains layout.
“The track is one of those places where teams really do need to compromise on their set-up to get the most out of their Dunlops with heavy braking at the hairpin and at the end of the back straight.
“At the same time first-gear drive is vital coming out of the hairpin which is the slowest corner of any track for the season.
“Tasmania offers some more logistical challenges than the mainland events, but the effort is worth it because the Tasmanian fans are some of the most passionate in the country.”
LOU MANDANICI – VICE PRESIDENT CONSUMER PBU & WHOLESALE ANZ
“While a small market, we have always considered Tasmania important to us,” said Mandanici.
“Tasmania has such a rich history of motorsport, not just at Symmons Plains, but famous tracks like Longford and Baskerville, and Dunlop has basically been there since the start and with some of the biggest national and international names the sport has ever known.
“Our relationship with the Tasmanian motorsport fans continues this weekend in what should be a very interesting event for the teams on the Dunlop Sport Maxx Super Soft tyres for the first time in championship conditions.”
ABOUT THE DUNLOP SPORT MAXX
The new Dunlop Sport Maxx is approximately 15mm wider than its predecessor and is a very different shape due to a flatter tread surface from sidewall to sidewall which will result in more rubber on the road.
It also has a stiffer construction and weighs about 500 grams heavier than the previous tyre.
Each car in the Supercars championship will be allocated 432 tyres for the season which means a total of 11,232 tyres for the year, excluding any wildcard entries.
All development from that point was done in-house at Calspan Engineering in Buffalo, New York.
The tyre was extensively laboratory tested in the US and all teams were provided with more than 100GB of data.
VITAL FACTS AND FIGURES – TYREPOWER TASMANIA SUPER SPRINT
- Tyre Allocation: 24 super soft tyres for the event
- 4 for practice; 20 for qualifying and races
- Race format: 1 x 120km (Sat) + 1 x 200km (Sun)
- Qualifying Record: Jamie Whincup 0:50.9676
- Race Lap Record: Rick Kelly 0:51.4713
- Most Pole Positions: Peter Brock (8)
- Most Race Wins: Jamie Whincup (11)
- Track Distance: 2.41km
- Direction: Anti-clockwise
- Turns: 7
- Average Speed: 167km/h
- Top Speed: 270km/h
- Best Vantage point: Outside of Turn 2 sees the cars drop in off John Bowe Straight before accelerating for the run to the hairpin.
TV Times (Local/AEST)
- Friday – 11.00am-4pm (Fox Sports 506)
- Saturday – 10.15am-6pm (Fox sports 506)
- Sunday – 10.15am-4.30pm (Fox Sports 506)
Track Times (Local/AEST)
12.40pm – Practice 1 (45 min)
3pm – Practice 2 (45 min)
11.30am – Practice 3 (45 min)
1.50pm – Qualifying (15 min)
4.45pm – Race 3 (50 laps)
11.30am – Qualifying (20 min)
2.05pm – Race 4 (84 laps)
9.45am – Practice (40 min)
12.05pm – Qualifying (20 min)
2.15pm – Race 1 (30 laps)
1.05pm – Race 2 (30 laps)
3.30pm – Race 3 (30 laps)
12.45pm – Race 4 (30 laps)
CURRENT TRACK RECORDS
Qualifying Lap Record: 50.9676s (Jamie Whincup, Holden Commodore VF 2014)
Race Lap Record: 51.4713s (Rick Kelly, Holden Commodore VE 2009)
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
1: Shane van Gisbergen 300
2: Fabian Coulthard 249
3: James Courtney 249
4: Chaz Mostert 213
5: Cameron Waters 210
6: Jamie Whincup 204
7: Scott McLaughlin 192
8: Craig Lowndes 168
9: Rick Kelly 165
10: Tim Slade 159
Dunlop Super2 Series
1: Paul Dumbrell 292
2: Todd Hazelwood 284
3: Jack Le Brocq 258
4: Macauley Jones 240
5: Andrew Jones 212
6: Will Brown 188
7: Garry Jacobson 176
8: Bryce Fullwood 166
9: Jack Perkins 152
10: Mason Barbera 148