Strategy will play a much bigger role at this weekend's Laser Plumbing & Electrical Hampton Downs 500 with some tweaks from last year's event.

The 2017 race will be longer and will leave teams contemplating a balance between taking the time to make an extra stop or leaving their amateur driver in the car longer.

Four-time Bathurst winner Steven Richards returns to Hampton Downs in his Laser-backed BMW SRM M6 GT3 alongside youngster Dylan O'Keeffe.

Richards thinks the format change will have a big impact on how teams approach the race.


"A bigger race this year in terms of the race length is near enough to an hour longer," he told The Herald.

"Elements are different with the strategy. It affects it quite a bit because in most cases a full tank of fuel is slightly less than the driving time for the amateur driver.

"What that means is you have to try and stretch the fuel window out by five laps or rely on a safety car to get you into that window.

"At some of the circuits we go to it is a two and a half stop strategy.

"You won't be able to get there on two stops if the race stays green but you could possibly if there are safety car interventions."

The difference between a two stop and three stop strategy is about how much time the amateur driver spends behind the wheel. They have to complete a minimum number of laps and one tank of fuel is just less than what would be required at average fuel burn numbers. It leaves teams deciding which option - an extra stop or leaving the amateur driver in for longer - hurts less.

"You have to weigh up the pace of your slower driver versus doing another stop," Richards explained. "If he is lapping two seconds a lap lower - the stint is probably 60-odd laps - you are probably better off doing an extra stop."

Cars are on track for the first practice session at 1.10pm this afternoon with rain falling in the area.


Qualifying and a top 10 shootout takes place on Saturday before Sunday's race beginning at 12.30pm.

The Herald will be live-streaming the action here.