1.8 C
Mount Panorama
Wednesday, May 22, 2024
HomeNewsBlowouts, blowups: Phillip Island’s tyre roulette

Blowouts, blowups: Phillip Island’s tyre roulette

TYRES were all the talk after one of the wildest races in Supercars history on this day – April 22 – as we go back to 2017 for the latest edition of Ryco Rewind.

Dunlop introduced a new construction of tyre for that season, featuring a squarer sidewall profile.

While the new rubber produced record speeds, the season also featured a spate of punctures – none more than at the Phillip Island SuperSprint.

Punctures in Friday’s practice sessions foreshadowed what was to come in the opening race. Fabian Coulthard, Shane van Gisbergen and Craig Lowndes all encountered issues, the latter’s causing a heavy crash at the Hayshed that led to a 13-hour overnight rebuild by Triple Eight.

Over 15 more tyres failed during the opening race on Saturday.

The race itself began spectacularly with a multi-car tangle at Southern Loop, triggered by Cam Waters running David Reynolds onto the grass on the exit of Doohan Corner, for which the Prodrive Racing Australia pilot copped a 35-point penalty.

Along with Reynolds, James Courtney, Lee Holdsworth, Todd and Rick Kelly, Nick Percat, Lee Holdsworth and Craig Lowndes all went off in avoidance.

It was only a few laps later that the first tyre issues began.

Waters and Scott Pye were the first to head to the pits on Lap 8, the former getting hit by Dale Wood as he limped home.

Chaz Mostert and Michael Caruso were next, both losing right-rear tyres on the very next tour, while James Moffat had a right-front go on the run into Doohan Corner one lap later.

Most of the field were afflicted at some point during the race. Some twice.

Mostert copped a second puncture as did Percat, the latter’s causing him to plough into rookie Alex Rullo at Honda Hairpin moments before the race passed the time-certain finish time.

The incident triggered Safety Car finish that caused more controversy – but more on that in a moment.

Even the eventual race-winner was among those to sustain a puncture.

Coulthard limped all the way from Doohan Corner back to the pits with a right-front puncture. Pic: an1images.com / Ross Gibb

Coulthard led the early stages from teammate Scott McLaughlin before popping his second right-front Dunlop of the weekend on Lap 19, which dropped him down to 16th place.

However, through strategy and the problems that afflicted a host of other contenders, Coulthard found himself classified in first place – that wording is important – ahead of Jamie Whincup and Garth Tander.

For Tander, it was his first podium finish since his return to Garry Rogers Motorsport at the start of the year.

The exploding tyres weren’t the only sore point after the race, however.

Several key contenders, including polesitter McLaughlin, Lowndes, van Gisbergen and Mark Winterbottom, were handed 15-second penalties for crossing the dashed centreline at the start of the circuit’s narrow pitlane, which divides the slow and fast lanes.

Most of the eight penalised drivers fumed at the ruling, both on their team radios during the race and to media after it, while teams quickly took note of rivals’ breaches and flagged them with Race Control – indeed, it was DJR Team Penske that highlighted Lowndes’ breach at his final pitstop.

The penalty proved pivotal for the Triple Eight pilot, who was one of the few to avoid a puncture throughout and emerged as Coulthard’s closest contender for victory.

However, with a 15-second post-race time penalty hanging over Lowndes’ head, Coulthard conceded the lead to the #888 Holden with five minutes left in the race, knowing he’d still be awarded the victory.

Lowndes was still on course to notch up a top-10 finish, until the Percat/Rullo incident caused the final laps to be run behind the Safety Car.

Even then, the drama didn’t finish there.

Lowndes greeted the chequered flag first but was handed a 15-second post-race time penalty. Pic: an1images.com / Ross Gibb

The Safety Car headed to the pits at the end of the final lap, allowing the field to run to the chequered flag at race pace – albeit with nobody allowed to pass.

Whincup and van Gisbergen, who’d recovered to fourth, were slow to accelerate and backed up the pack in order to help mitigate their teammate’s post-race time penalty.

Lowndes led the train past the flag but was eventually classified 12th, having put three seconds into Coulthard and almost six into van Gisbergen by the time he reached the finish line.

Supercars issued new tyre rules for the Sunday race, raising the minimum starting pressure from 17 to 19psi and prescribing maximum camber angles.

The blowouts continued despite the changes, although this time all three Triple Eight cars were afflicted while Mostert led home Winterbottom for a Prodrive Racing Australia one-two.

This story is the latest in our series of Ryco Rewind stories as we take a look back through Australian motorsport history and explore the great races, drivers and cars from the past on the relevant anniversary.

Want to read more?

Subscribe to V8 Sleuth to receive regular updates of news and products delivered straight to you.

Latest News

Want to read more?

Subscribe to V8 Sleuth to receive regular updates of news and products delivered straight to you.