New tyre compound pivotal at Tasmania Super Sprint

Dunlop’s Supercars operations manager Kevin Fitzsimons
Dunlop’s Supercars operations manager Kevin Fitzsimons

Two shipping containers left Melbourne on board the Spirit of Tasmania earlier this week carrying the fortunes of all drivers in this weekend’s Tasmania Super Sprint.

Inside were the 1400 tyres drivers in both main Supercar categories will use to try and tame the notoriously-tricky 2.4-kilometre Symmons Plains track.

And experts are already predicting that almost every qualifying and lap record will be under threat with the new tyre construction.

Teams will race with Dunlop’s new Sport Maxx super soft compound in championship conditions for the first time after the chance to test them at the non-championship Australian Grand Prix round last month.

Each Supercar 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 support category will see another 276 dry hard compound tyres and 184 wets prepared for the 23 entrants.

Dunlop’s Supercars operations manager Kevin Fitzsimons said the “patchy” track surfaces at Symmons will provide constant challenges for teams after the luxury of the smooth-flowing Albert Park track.

“The Australian GP 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,” Fitzsimons said.

“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.

“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.”

Fitzsimons said teams will be particularly conscious of “dragging” of the left rear tyre which comes under regular loading around the circuit.

Providing good weather, Fitzsimons predicted records aplenty being set at Symmons.

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 at Albert Park.

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 long-standing lap record of 51.4713 seconds was established by Rick Kelly in a VE Commodore back in 2009.

SUPERCAR TIMING

FRIDAY: 12.40pm Practice 1 (45 min); 3pm Practice 2 (45 min)

SATURDAY: 11.30am Practice 3 (45 min); 1.50pm Qualifying (15 min); 4.45pm Race 3 (50 laps)

SUNDAY: 11.30am Qualifying (20 min); 2.05pm Race 4 (84 laps)