Richards braced for Sandown soft tyre “soap opera”

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Richards braced for Sandown soft tyre “soap opera”
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Sep 16, 2016, 10:29 PM

Leading Supercars co-driver Steve Richards says the end of Sunday’s Sandown 500 may resemble a “soap opera” based on the tyre degradation seen during practice yesterday.

Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Fabian Coulthard and Luke Youlden, Team Penske Ford
Steven Richards, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Craig Lowndes and Steven Richards, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Steven Richards, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

For the first time the 500-kayer will be run exclusively on the soft-compound Dunlop tyre, raising a number of questions about degradation and wear should the race be run in dry conditions

Based on the three half-hour practice sessions held yesterday, Richards – who will drive alongside Craig Lowndes – says that degradation won’t be the only issue, with off-line build up set to play its role as well.

“The hardest thing is dodging all the stuff that’s falling off the cars and coming out of the front spoilers,” said Richards, who banked a first and a second from the two all-co-driver sessions yesterday.

“There’s massive big balls of rubber coming out of the cars everywhere.

“Clearly come the end of a 500km race on Sunday, if it’s dry we’re going to have a fair bit of build-up on the side of the track. That in itself will create a good soap opera I reckon.”

Degradation rates “an unknown”

DJR Team Penske’s Fabian Coulthard, who topped the single primary driver practice session yesterday, added that the abrasive and changeable surface at Sandown will mean longer stints will be a trek into the unknown for crews ahead of Sunday’s main race.

“We didn’t do any longer runs [on Friday],” he said.

“With the nature of this circuit and how abrasive it is and the different surfaces, I think there’s going to be a fair bit of wear. But until we do a longer run at some point it’ll be a little bit of an unknown.”

Today’s non-competitive running will be limited to an open 30-minute practice session, before a qualifying session and two 20-lap qualifying races.

There is then a single 20-minute warm-up before the Sandown 500 on Sunday.

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