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‘Old-school’ Supercars AGP challenges unpacked

THIS week’s MSS Security Melbourne SuperSprint will offer a fresh if “old-school” challenge for the Repco Supercars Championship’s teams and drivers.

Supercars’ loss of the Albert Park pitlane has been well-documented by now, but few have spelt out the impact it will have on the running of cars quite like Macauley Jones explained on the latest BJR Rundown podcast episode.

With the Supercars paddock relocated to the infield and transporters parked outside the circuit, crews will not have their usual raft of equipment at their disposal during track sessions.

“The challenge that we’re facing now is we don’t actually have a garage next to the track that our engineers can be in,” said Jones, who is set to don a special livery for the March 21-24 event.

“So, what normally happens is they’re in the garage, we have our whole space stations, we call them, and that has all of the telemetry, all of the data and they sit at it and can see what strategy they want to play.

“They’ve got all of the timing, all of the live telemetry from the car – all of the sensors from the car go straight into a heap of squiggly lines that they decipher into what the car is doing or where the driver may need to improve.

“We don’t actually have that going into the garage (this week), so if we do want to pit in practice to make a change or something, we have pretty much got our laptops and that’s it.

“So it is kind of going back to some old-school stuff where we don’t have all that information.

“We’ll probably have maybe a data engineer that will actually stay at the backyard garage in the infield and then you’ll have your head engineer and your mechanics potentially changing wheels in the pitlane.

“They’ll probably get the telemetry going to a laptop which is much less information flow than what there normally is over a weekend.

“So that is definitely a massive factor: how different teams manage that will definitely be different across the field because it is a bit of a learning curve for us all, and how much stuff we can actually take to the pitlane.”

Thursday action at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix will be exclusively Supercars and Porsche Carrera Cup Australia, leaving those categories to lay rubber down on the once-a-year street track.

Macauley Jones last year at Albert Park. Pic: Supplied/Pace Images

“One of the parts of being there on a Thursday is the track is extremely dirty, so by the time you get through your first practice it’s a pretty dodgy session just with how green the track is,” said #96 driver Jones.

“And by green, I mean there’s not many cars that have run on it, there’s not much rubber down so it’s quite dirty.

“When the construction guys are building that circuit, they’re driving trucks and all sorts of vehicles all over the place, so that puts a whole lot of dust and crap on the track and that means we’re sort of street cleaners for the first half of the day.

“Rapidly the track changes over the weekend, especially by the time Formula 1 hit the track with their Pirelli rubber.”

Supercars will have five sessions on Thursday: two practice sessions, two lots of qualifying, and a 19-lap pitstop-less race.

There will be another sprint race on each of Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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