Craig Lowndes and Team Vortex didn’t have a very strong run in any of the four races hotly contested at the recent non scoring round at the Albert park Circuit where the Supercars run as a support race for the Formula One World Championship.
Craig’s biggest complaint over the weekend was that the new 2017s Dunlop tyres kept going off and he didn’t have the grip to be able to fight for positions, even losing some in the dying laps.
He sat down with the team’s official website after the Melbourne round and spoke about some of the challenges he had to face with the new compounds…
So working now on softs and super softs, how do you feel the two separate compounds run?
The compounds are both very similar to the tyres we used last year. The super soft is like our previous soft and this year’s soft is very similar in compound to the hard tyre from last year. The real difference is in the construction of tyre. The sidewall of both the soft and super soft is much stiffer than previously and the tyre is also slightly wider and taller. All of this affects how the car behaves and means we’ve needed to make changes to the (chassis) set-up to accommodate the different tyre characteristics. It makes things interesting in the category with the change. We’ve spent quite a few years on the previous tyres, so we now all need to work harder to extract the best out of the new tyres.
What are the strengths in the different compounds?
The super soft will generate faster lap times, so I suspect we will see new lap records at a number of tracks. I’m interested in getting to Bathurst to see what it can do down Conrod Straight, which is our highest top speed in the Championship. The soft effectively becomes our new hard tyre, but will generate higher top speeds than the previous years’ hard tyre.
And what about the challenges?
At this stage, trying to get the life out of the soft and super soft is the challenge. Making sure the car looks after the tyres longer than the opposition will be key to finishing fast and hopefully on the podium. Although we had a dedicated day with the new tyres at Sydney Motorsport Park before the season, I’m definitely looking forward to our next test day. There’s a lot that we are all learning about the tyre and car behaviour at the moment.
Is the absence of the hard tyre noticeable?
At this point no, we haven’t been to any high tyre degradation tracks yet. Our next race is Tasmania and historically the car has looked after the tyres there, which has been a soft tyre round. This year it’s a super soft round, so hopefully, that’s still the case. I think the telling race will be the round after at Phillip Island, which is a track renowned for being hard on tyres. This year it’s all soft tyres, so it will be interesting.