DRIVERS have criticised the policing of kerb hopping at the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit, following the opening day of action at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500.
Supercars returned to the streets of the Queensland city’s glitter strip for the first time since October 2019 with two 30-minute practice sessions.
The sessions were peppered with drivers having lap times disallowed for triggering the electronic kerb-hop sensors placed at Turn 2 and in the beachside chicane.
Drivers will also have lap times deleted for kerb infringements in qualifying, while a yet-to-be-determined number of strikes will be allowed in the races before penalties are imposed.
Although the combination of electronic sensors and tyre bundles has been used by Supercars for some years, drivers described today’s infringements as ‘random’.
“It’s very confusing as drivers, you don’t know where the line is,” said Shane van Gisbergen, who is on the brink of securing his third Supercars Championship title.
“You kind of just wing it and hope. A few times there I cut and didn’t get a kerb hop, so I’m very confused. I just drive around and if they tell me it’s got a hop, it’s got a hop.
“You just have no idea in the car whether you’re hopping or not.”
Will Davison was quick in both sessions but described it as “one of the more confusing” days he’s had at the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit.
“I don’t want to sit here and shit-can it too much, but it was very frustrating from my end today, it seemed to change a lot,” he said.
“Whether it’s change in your car, if it sits up on two wheels more, but certainly the cuts at the end (of the session), I wasn’t cutting the corner, but I couldn’t set it off in the first one.
“It’s annoying. I literally drove around on new tyres thinking about how not to set it off and you don’t really know where your reference is.
“You just go conservative in the end just to get a lap on the board. It’s annoying because it’s fun through the chicane, but sometimes it’s just a bit of a lottery.”
Speaking directly after Practice 2, Supercars Race Director James Taylor explained that officials can also video-review infringements.
“The teams have access to the recording system from practice and qualifying sessions, so they know what section they are hopping,” he said.
“But that gets turned off for races, then we are the only ones with eyes on that because we are policing with warnings.
“We’ve got a camera in both chicanes so we can have a visual. If some team says, ‘no that’s wrong, the electronic system is not working’, we’ve got a visual.
“The electronic system is, except for electronic failure, foolproof.
“All our timing responders are in the same spots in the cars, so it works. It gives you a level of consistency and takes the human error out of it.
“Tomorrow we’ll sit down with the stewards and look at the distance of the race (and decide how many kerb strikes are allowed in the races).
“We want to police it, but we don’t want to be seen to be over-policing it.”
Adding to the gripes among drivers today, officials had to reposition the tyre bundles in the beachside chicane during an early red flag period in Practice 2.
Unknown to Supercars officials, the bundles had been moved back from the apexes for the previous Porsche Carrera Cup session and needed to be returned.
“Apparently Shane was the first person to pick it as he was driving around,” said Taylor. “He said, ‘they’ve opened it up, it’s straight-lined’. He caught it quicker than we caught it.
“We were contemplating neutralising the session because the kerb strikes were through the roof. Will Brown forced our hand, and we ran the whole process (during the red flag).”