Supercars drivers hoping Phillip Island tyre scare is behind them
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All the talk of Supercars is around tyres. Tyre blow-outs highlighted the last round at Phillip Island a fortnight ago and now they appear to be dominating the lead-up to this weekend's round at Barbagallo Raceway in Perth.
Although the soft tyres that caused so many problems for teams at Phillip Island are tucked away until Bathurst now, tyre degradation and preservation will play a big part in success this weekend on a track which is notoriously hard on them.
"It is a crazy track on tyres," Kiwi driver and defending Supercars champion Shane van Gisbergen told the Herald. "It is the first one we have had like this so I think it will be interesting.
"Perth always gives good racing and lots of action with tyres coming on or going off. I think it will be a good weekend for racing and hopefully we can put on a good show because the last few rounds have been pretty average from all the penalties and stuff like that. Hopefully the show and racing is better."
The Red Bull Holden driver is spot on - the past two rounds have been a shambles.
Tasmania was interrupted with half the field caught up in a wet-weather crash that eventually saw no points allocated on the Saturday. Blown tyres and strict application of vague rules hit leading contenders at Phillip Island.
Teams set cars up at Phillip Island to be as fast as possible but the Dunlop soft tyres were punished too much and up to a dozen drivers experienced blow-outs.
"This tyre loves settings with more camber and that gives more grip but it comes with the penalty of more risk with the puncture," van Gisbergen said.
"It is a weird one for the future, what we learn from it and hopefully we don't see a repeat of it at Bathurst.
"Back on the soft tyre this weekend - it was pretty good in Tassie - [I'm] looking forward to it."
The reigning series champion got off to a perfect start to his title defence on the streets of Adelaide but has played catch-up to the DJR Team Penske guys at the previous two rounds.
A tyre failure casued Craig Lowndes to crash at Phillip Island. Photo / Getty Images
"It feels worse than it is because we've had a couple of bizarre rounds with Tassie on the Saturday being crazy and then Phillip Island obviously with the penalties and the dramas.
"We are still second in the championship which is easy to forget because of how it feels. I think we have done a lot of hard work and looking forward to hopefully an improved performance this weekend.
"Last year was the same - I think we had 12 different winners in the first 14 races.
"It always takes a while to sort out who is going to be out front consistently. At the moment it hasn't been us but just like last year we have to work hard and try and make it up the front consistently," said van Gisbergen.
"We have a lot of work to do but that is why we do it. We enjoy it and look forward to the challenge of it. We have a lot of work to do to get the performance we had last year. A lot is going on at the shop.
"Tyres are boring but that is what we are all figuring out at the moment. I am pretty sure it will be good. We had an awesome weekend there last year and our team has a good record there. Hopefully we can get back into it and have a good weekend."
●Located in Perth.
●Originally known as Wanneroo Park (until 1992).
●40th time the track has hosted a round.
●Kiwi Fabian Coulthard makes his 150th round start (25th driver to achieve this).
●Craig Lowndes has a record 16 race wins at track.
Most likely to win:
Shane van Gisbergen.
Watch out for:
James Courtney and Walkinshaw Racing.