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Strategic intrigue to inaugural Gen3 night race

THE first night race of the Gen3 Supercars era is shaping up to be a strategic thriller.

The compulsory pitstop regulations for Race 1 of the Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight (to be held on Saturday July 29) were finalised a little more than a week in advance and leaves the door open for diverging tactics.

The key change is a switch from two mandatory stops down to one for the 51-lap, 200km encounter under lights.

That will see teams able to service their respective with a single visit to the lane to change tyres and complete the 80-litre minimum fuel drop.

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However, with tyre degradation a regular talking point with the lower downforce Gen3 cars, there may be a temptation to make more pitstops than necessary.

That will come down to whether there’s enough gain to be had on fresh tyres to warrant time lost transiting the pits again.

Fast and flowing Sydney Motorsport Park is typically a high-degradation circuit, but what impact cooler evening temperatures have on that remains to be seen.

Tyre life on the Mustangs alone is also a relative unknown, with post-Townsville engine and driveability work aimed at solving those ongoing woes.

Either way, an early Safety Car particularly could tempt teams into committing to a two-stop strategy, be that by splitting the fuel drop across both stops or not.

Adding to the scenario, there’s bound to be an unusual degree of Sunday uncertainty.

Every Sunday race this season has been run to the same distance as Saturday, meaning the strategic dos and don’ts are generally clear by then.

Not in Sydney, where the night refuelling race will be following an extended daytime sprint (36 laps, 140km).

There’s no refuelling for the Sunday race and again just the one compulsory pitstop (for tyres only), but degradation levels might again be telling as to whether a two-stopper is worth considering.

Five support categories will take centre stage on Friday before Repco Supercars Championship action starts on Saturday.

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