Not for the first time, bundles of tires came under scrutiny as supercars raced around the Gold Coast last weekend.
For a sixth record of the 2022 season, a red flag interrupted a Supercars race after six cars were obliterated in a sickening crash at Beach Chicane early in Sunday’s race.
The incident was caused by James Golding misjudging the left-right section, collecting the tire bundle, stepping it onto the racing line and the stricken PremiAir car coming to a stop at the exit of the high-speed section, leaving the chasing group nowhere and blocking the circuit.
The crash brought tire bundles back into focus, which were part of the streets of Surfers Paradise for most of the route.
In 2011, Supercars famously replaced bundles with rubber bollards, but they only lasted the one event after necessitating several stoppages, only compounding the problem as cars regularly threw them out of position.
Bundles have been in place ever since, but were brought back into sharp focus when James Courtney and Nick Percat expressed their anger after being impacted by the big crash.
Replacing tires is not a view shared by the entire grid, however, with top drivers backing bundles.
“That (replacing the bundle) is probably a bit emotional, tire bundles are nothing new and I think we can all agree that they’re a good solution in place of the electronic sensor,” said Will Davison, who finished third on Sunday .
“They’re behind the curb that’s supposed to prevent us from using the curb. I don’t think there is a problem with the tire bundles.
“But they’re just part of the street circuit, they’ll cause an accident if you get into the chicane hot and don’t break off the last apex
“I don’t think getting rid of them will be the ultimate solution.”
The man who swept the streets of Surfers Paradise, Shane van Gisbergen, also believes bundles of tires should stay, declaring they were “our best option”, but shifted the spotlight to the curbs.
The reason there are bundles is to discourage riders from being too greedy and short-cutting the chicanes that make up such a large part of the Gold Coast road course.
But especially at Turn 2, where there is no bunch, and also on the beach chicane, drivers can still find some time by pushing the boundaries, so Supercars deployed sensors in the corner to monitor the curbs.
If a car gains too much an advantage while out of track limits, a curb strike will appear next to the driver’s name and the lap time will not be allowed.
There were countless curb strikes throughout the weekend, with Brodie Kostecki and Andre Heimgartner notably losing their times in Saturday’s shootout.
Drivers were frustrated by the Staten’s inconsistency and van Gisbergen was disappointed that more was not done over the weekend to address the issue.
“Every single driver has signed a petition that the curbs are not good enough and that we have to do something,” said the winner at the press conference.
“It was frustrating that they didn’t listen to us but at the same time I don’t understand FIA licensing rules and stuff like that.
“We come back here year after year and it’s the same stuff and if we come up with something good, if we’re a little quieter and more thorough and come up next year, we can just send it.”
But the tire bundle was found to have been moved back by around 400mm at the apex of Left Turn 1 and Race 32 runner-up Chaz Mostert actually praised Supercars’ efforts throughout the weekend and hopes there will be some positive changes can trigger.
“I think the way Supercars handled that and at least gave us the chance to talk to them about a track change so late in the play was good of them,” he said.
“At the first chicane there was a change on the track and the first bundle of tires was moved backwards which was the only real result at the time as the loops didn’t have different legs to veer to at least close the curb at Turn 2 achieve better.
“In the final chicane they said most of us who skipped had a vision that we were skipping.
“I don’t think in years past there wouldn’t even have been an opportunity to sit down with them.
“I think it’s a bit harsh for Supercars to say they haven’t done anything for us and I say congratulations on listening to us.”
The 2022 Supercars Championship will conclude early next month at another returning street circuit in Adelaide.
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