Rain could cause schedule reshuffle at Pukekohe

Supercars is open to reshuffling the Pukekohe schedule should wet weather make running this afternoon's opening race impossible.

Rain could cause schedule reshuffle at Pukekohe
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia Ford
James Courtney, Holden Racing Team
Cameron Waters, Prodrive Racing Australia Ford
 Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Ford
Steering wheel of Garth Tander, Garry Rogers Motorsport

The category has already been forced to cancel one session today, qualifying called off after wet weather made the newly-resurfaced back straight almost impossible to drive on.

That's raised questions about whether this afternoon's opening 200-kilometre race will be able to go ahead, with intermittent rain continuing to pour down on the Pukekohe circuit.

Officials are set to make a final call on the status of the race before the start sequence officially opens at 3:40pm local time. Should the circuit be deemed too dangerous, a schedule shuffle is likely – and could even result in both races being run tomorrow.

"We take every measure to put on a show for our fans but the safety of the teams and drivers is fundamentally important," said Supercars CEO James Warburton.

"It is not about it being wet, as we have raced in many weekends in the past in those conditions. Obviously the new surface, before it has gripped up, is very slippery.

"Our intention as always is to try and get a race under way, so unless the weather is torrential that is the plan. And then it is one step at a time.

"There are options to reshuffle the schedule in many ways as well and of course there are no guarantees that tomorrow it won't rain.

"It is crucial for the championship [to run both races], but we can’t put the teams or the drivers in a condition, because of the resurfacing, where a race cannot be run.

"We have also got to be very careful and measured in the way we approach it. The weather is clearing a little bit but you never know what tomorrow brings as well.

"The support categories are out which is a good sign and they are clearing up standing water and getting the resurfaced areas dried out. There are a couple of things we can do by putting product on it, but not in the rain.

"The race sequence starts at 1540 New Zealand time so that is the critical time were things will be determined."

Tyre management key

Should the two races go ahead in wet conditions, the next issue teams will need to contend with is tyre allocation.

Each car has been allocated just 12 new wet weather tyres for the Pukekohe weekend, which could prove on the lean side should both 200-kilometre races, and tomorrow's qualifying session, require grooved rubber.

According to Dunlop's Supercars Operations Manager Kevin Fitzsimons, management will be key.

"You've got to manage the allocation that you've got, which from qualifying onwards is 12 tyres," he said.

"Whether that means only changing rear tyres, or turning them on the rims, they'll just have to manage them.

"There's a rule in place that [the teams] have all had to play with, it's been there for years. That's the way it is, and times like this is raises its ugly head.

"This tyre is really an aggressive intermediate, it's not what you'd call a monsoon tyre. It's not super soft. So they will get long wear out of it.

"The nature of the corners here, they're not going to eat into them as much. It's the wheelspin they've got to be careful of."

Fitzsimons added that there is no scope for a last-minute increase to the allocation this weekend, as was the case at Bathurst last month.

"The Bathurst situation was a but unique in that we had the Dunlop Super2 Series there and I hadn't sold any tyres to them, so I had their allocation and I was able to do another set," he said.

"It's like saying you can run a seven-speed gearbox or a six-litre engine. Things like that don't happen in a hurry. A set per car is 104 tyres in total. It's just how it works out."

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About this article

Series Supercars
Event Auckland
Location Pukekohe Park Raceway
Author Andrew van Leeuwen
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