Who needs parity rules when you can limit the amount of new tyre sets that teams can use across the weekend? For me, that’s the biggest takeaway from the second Sydney SuperSprint of the season.
Supercars returned to Sydney Motorsport Park this weekend as the current situation in Victoria meant that the race at Winton couldn’t take place as scheduled.
Like at the last round, held at SMP last month, the top teams went for consistency rather than doing what some of the other teams did, which was put all their eggs in one basket to go all out for a race victory.
After all, if you’re not in the main championship fight, what have you got to lose?
The first race of the weekend was held under lights on Saturday night. Scott McLaughlin won for DJR Team Penske, starting on the hard tyres before moving to the softs.
Compare this strategy to that of Lee Holdsworth and Anton de Pasquale, who finished second and third, respectively. They used two sets of soft tyres in the race, which allowed them to be in contention for the race victory.
Holdsworth managed to stay ahead of McLaughlin when he exited the pits but was unable to defend the position on colder tyres, with McLaughlin getting past up the inside into turn 4.
McLaughlin and his race engineer, Ludo Lacroix, are the best when it comes to mastering the sprint format used in the last two rounds. McLaughlin won on Saturday night with another set of softs still in the bank, which he used to take him to another podium finish in the second race.
Nick Percat seems to have taken a liking to the second race of the weekend at SMP. Last time round, he won the second race and did the same this weekend.
Having only used the hard compound in the first race, Brad Jones Racing went for maximum attack with Percat in the second race, using both sets of soft tyres.
It was great to see how teams brought a different approach to each race and how this brought the smaller teams to the front and challenging for race wins.
There is no greater example of this in my opinion than Jack Le Brocq’s victory in the final race on Sunday afternoon.
Going into that race, Le Brocq had two good quality sets of soft tyres still in his armoury. Couple the better pace that the soft tyre brings with a successful undercut attempt on Andre Heimgartner, who had led the early stages of the race, and it’s clear to see how Le Brocq was able to take his first win in Supercars.
What made race 12 of the season even more special was that the race win was being contested by the smaller teams. The highest placed driver out of the top two teams was Jamie Whincup in eighth place.
The tyre limitations have created a situation where DJR Team Penske and Red Bull Holden cannot lead from the front all the time. Just like everyone else, there will be at least one race in the weekend when they have to concede defeat, having used all the best rubber to get better results in the other races.
Long may this continue. There’s more sprint racing to come when the championship moves to the Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin for a doubleheader, starting with the Darwin Triple Crown on August 8 and 9.
Scott McLaughlin has extended his advantage at the top of the championship to 107 points over Jamie Whincup. Whincup lost ground when he ran the second race of the weekend on the hard tyres, only managing to finish in 17th.
DJR Team Penske have a slim 22-point lead over Red Bull Holden in the teams championship, having regained the lead thanks to a double podium in the second race with Fabian Coulthard getting his first podium of 2020.
As Supercars sets up its Queensland hub, the show is still on the road, heading to Darwin for some winter sun next time round.