It wasn’t the first time tire sets came under the microscope when supercars raced around the Gold Coast last weekend.
For a record sixth time in the 2022 season, the red flag halted the Supercars race after six cars were destroyed by a hideous shunt at the Beach Chicane at the start of Sunday’s race.
The incident occurred when James Golding misjudged the left-right section, collected a tire pack, threw it onto the racing line, and the battered PremiAir car stalled on the exit of the high-speed section, leaving the chasing group with nowhere to go and a chain lock.
The accident has once again brought attention to the bundles of tires that have been a part of the streets of Surfers Paradise for almost the course’s existence.
In 2011, Supercars infamously replaced the kits with rubber bollards, but they only lasted one event after numerous pit stops were required as they only compounded the problem of cars regularly knocking them off.
The packages have been in place since then, but they have been brought back into focus as similar James Courtney and Nick Percutt expressed their anger after suffering a major accident.
However, changing tires is an opinion not shared by all members of the grid, with the best pilots supporting the packages.
“It (replacing kits) is probably a bit of an emotional comment, tire packages are nothing new and I think we all agree that they are a good solution instead of an electronic sensor,” said Will Davison, who took over third place on Sunday.
“They’re behind the sausage curb, which is there to keep us from hitting the curb. I don’t think there is a problem with the tire packages.
“But they’re part and parcel on street circuits, they’ll crash if you go into the hot chicane and don’t stop the last apex
“I don’t think getting rid of them is going to be the final solution.”
The man who swept the streets of Surfers Paradise, Shane van Gisbergen, also believes the tire kits should stay, saying it was “our best option”, but switched his focus to curbs.
The reason for introducing the packs is to stop drivers being too greedy and to reduce the chicanes that are such a big part of the Gold Coast’s street circuit.
However, particularly at the second turn, where there is no interchange, and also at the beach chicane, drivers can still find time pushing the limits, so Supercars installed sensors in the corner to monitor the curbs.
If a car is deemed to be gaining too much of a lead leaving the track, a note will appear next to the driver’s name and the lap time will not be counted.
There were countless strikeouts over the weekend, notably Brody Kostecki and Andre Heimgartner losing in Saturday shootout.
Drivers were frustrated by Stetten’s inconsistency, and van Gisbergen was frustrated that more was not done to address the issue at the weekend.
“Every driver signed a petition stating that curbs are not enough and something needs to be done,” the winner said at a press conference.
“It was frustrating that they didn’t listen to us, but at the same time I don’t understand the FIA license rules and stuff like that.
“We come back here year after year and it’s the same thing, and if we can come up with something good, if we’re a little more calm and grounded and come up with it next year, we can just send it.”
But it was discovered that the set of tires located at the apex of left-hand Turn 1 had been pushed back by around 400mm, and Race 32 runner-up Chaz Mostert actually praised the Supercars’ efforts over the weekend and hopes that it can initiate some positive change.
“I think the way Supercars handled it and at least gave us a chance to talk to them about changing the track so late in the part was good of them,” he said.
“There was a track change at the first chicane and the first tire pack was moved back, which was the only real result at that point because there were no different stages on the loops that could be switched off to make at least the curb at Turn 2 better.
“At the last chicane they said most of us were missing, they had a vision of what we were missing.
“In past years, I don’t think there was an opportunity to even sit down with them.
“I think it’s a bit harsh on Supercars to say they haven’t done anything for us, and I congratulate you for listening to us.”
The 2022 Supercars Championship will conclude at another street circuit in Adelaide early next month.
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