Motorsport: Variables rather than strategy key for Pukekohe

By Dale Budge at Pukekohe Park Raceway

Jamie Whincup of Red Bull Racing Australia during the ITM Auckland SuperSprint. Photo / Supplied
Jamie Whincup of Red Bull Racing Australia during the ITM Auckland SuperSprint. Photo / Supplied

The unique format of the ITM Auckland SuperSprint has largely removed any strategy play to help decide the winners of the four races across the weekend.

The short 100km race distances without compulsory pit stops means pure speed will determine the outcome. But a couple of variables could throw a spanner in the works with changeable weather forecast and tyre life proving to be a concern.

Kiwi championship leader Shane van Gisbergen is regarded as the best driver in the field in wet conditions but he isn't doing any rain dances as he battles Red Bull Racing Holden teammate Jamie Whincup for the title.

"I hope it is dry," van Gisbergen said. "[Saturday] is meant to be ok but Sunday might be a bit dicey.

"This track is not very good in the wet. There are so many different surfaces and it is so hard to feel where the grip is."

Reigning series champion Mark Winterbottom, who found himself in van Gisbergen's position this time last year, believes the last thing either driver will want is rain.

"It is a high pressure weekend," Winterbottom said. "The inclement weather is probably not ideal for the championship guys going at it because one slip up and things can go wrong."

The other variable is the life of the Dunlop hard tyre in use for the weekend. If races start and remain dry there will be significant degradation on the tyres after the 35-laps and looking after them earlier will be vital later in the race.

"We saw today that tyres go off a little bit," van Gisbergen said after practice. "35 laps is a pretty decent stint. It is going to be a long way on tyres but with the new compound this year, we seem to get pretty life out of them."

- NZ Herald

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