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Deadline looms for key Bathurst 1000 call

A DECISION that will have a major impact on October’s Repco Bathurst 1000 is set to be made within the next fortnight.

Supercars must decide whether to run its flagship event on Dunlop’s Soft or Hard compound control tyre, in what was a major talking point during last weekend’s Thrifty Bathurst 500.

The first Great Race run with the Gen3 cars last year also marked the first to use Dunlop’s higher degradation, Soft compound tyres.

It was touted to shake-up pit strategies but instead resulted in drivers taking a conservative approach, lapping several seconds off their potential to preserve the rubber.

Overtaking was also said to have become more difficult as large quantities of rubber debris, known as marbles, built up either side of the racing line.

The start of the 2023 Bathurst 1000. Pic: Ross Gibb

Supercars’ Operations Manual again stipulates Soft tyres for this year’s Great Race, but using the Hard at last weekend’s 500 allowed a test-run of the alternative.

Speaking to V8 Sleuth following the Sunday race, Supercars’ General Manager of Motorsport Tim Edwards said feedback is being sought ahead of the deadline.

“We’ll canvass the teams, we’ll canvass the drivers over the next couple of weeks, but Kev (Fitzsimons, Dunlop motorsport manager) is keen to know,” Edwards told V8 Sleuth.

“We’ll need to give him an answer in the next couple of weeks.”

The decision to run the Soft last year is believed to have been at least partially motivated by a desire to ensure the new Gen3 cars were not outpaced by their higher-downforce Super2 predecessors.

With both classes on the Hard tyre last weekend, the fastest Gen3 lap set by Broc Feeney in Sunday qualifying (2:05.3317) was just 0.0793s ahead of Kai Allen’s Super2 best.

SUPERGRID! 2023 Bathurst lap times compared

Edwards, however, has dismissed that as a factor in any 2024 decision, and downplayed suggestions the category could run Soft tyres in the Top 10 Shootout and Hards in the race.

The weekend partially quelled concerns over the potential inability to warm-up the Hard tyre quickly enough for the Bathurst 1000 Shootout, given its evening timeslot.

“I don’t know why you would bother running a Soft in quali and then a Hard (in the race), but we’ll navigate through that,” said Edwards.

“You’ve got to remember that in this category you race on the tyres you qualify on, effectively. You don’t have a separate pool of tyres that you just use for quali, as with a lot of categories.

“It’s all linked so if you quali on them then potentially you’d have Softs in your bank for the weekend as well.”

Publicly-expressed driver feedback on the Great Race tyre debate over the weekend was largely favoured towards the Hard tyre.

The top three finishers on Sunday leant general support to the hard, although its sensitivity to dirt on the circuit was flagged as a negative factor.

Will Davison, who had a tough weekend with Dick Johnson Racing, is adamant that the Hard tyre will produce worse racing if used in the Bathurst 1000.

Edwards affirmed that opinions delivered to Supercars over the weekend were mixed.

“Very brief discussions have been had this weekend,” added Edwards.

“There’s been obviously a few conversations with a few drivers and a few team principals, and it’d be fair to say that we’ve got differing opinions, which shouldn’t surprise you.

“We’ll do a bit more canvassing over the next couple of weeks before we make our final decision.”

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