Changes to the Supercars tyre rules in 2017
Each year the Supercars tyre rules are reviewed and after the move to using the softer compound tyres in more races in 2016 considered a definite winner, the 2017 tyre rules remain much the same.
The only significant difference is that the rule for tyre changes in the shorter 120km SuperSprint races has been updated with teams now only required to change two tyres (rather than all four) in the race’s compulsory pit stop.
Perhaps the biggest change though comes not in the tyre rules, but in the form of a new tyre construction set to spice up the competition in 2017.
New Year, New Rubber – a new tyre construction
Marking the biggest category-wide technical change since the start of the Car of the Future era in 2013, Dunlop has introduced a new construction to its Supercars tyre for 2017.
Now referred to as ‘Soft’ and ‘Super Soft’, these new slick tyres in fact retain the same ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ compound as the previous tyre with only the construction beneath changing. Key to the construction change, however, is that the tyre is made using a completely different mould, with Dunlop focusing on improving “the weak spots” of the now outdated tyre.
What’s different about the new tyre?
The new tyre is now approximately 15mm wider and 500 grams heavier than its predecessor, but more significantly, its profile is squarer in shape due to a flatter tread surface from sidewall to sidewall. While the previous tyre was more rounded in transitioning from contact patch to the sidewall, the new construction will result in more rubber laid down on the track, more grip and improved durability something Dunlop and Supercars hope will improve drivers’ confidence and ability in pulling off passes — for the length of a race.
Specifically designed for the category, the Dunlop Sport Maxx 290/675X18 Soft and Super Soft control tyres are also expected to be faster. Dunlop anticipates many Supercar lap records could be broken this season given the right conditions.
In switching to Car of the Future-specification in 2013, the tyre size increased from 17-inch to 18-inch. However, the construction remains unchanged since Dunlop was first awarded the control tyre contract in 2002. With 15 different track surfaces and 15 different temperature combinations, it’s not known how the 2017 construction will change the degradation characteristics of the tyres, representing a journey into uncharted territory for the Supercars Championship.
The new Super Soft tyres (distinguished by their white sidewall signage) will be used at most events. The Soft tyre (yellow signage) will only feature at the Clipsal 500 Adelaide, the WD-40 Phillip Island SuperSprint, the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 and the ITM Auckland SuperSprint. A grooved option control tyre is also available in wet weather conditions.
Following a spate of failures with the 2017 construction soft compound control tyre at Phillip Island, which was to be used at Bathurst and the visit to Pukekohe in November, the Virgin Australia Supercars field will revert to Dunlop’s 2016 construction tyres.
Minimum tyre pressure
A minimum tyre pressure of 17 psi will continue in 2017 following the Supercars Commission’s decision to mandate the minimum tyre pressure after receiving recommendations from tyre manufacturer Dunlop in September 2014. The minimum tyre pressure must be achieved at any time the car is on the race track during any session.
The 2017 Supercars Tyre Allocation
Each car in the Supercars Championship will be allocated 432 tyres for the season, excluding any wildcard entries.
The rules allow teams to buy a maximum of four sets of soft and four sets of super-soft tyres toward their test allocation with no restrictions on how the tyres can be used. Ahead of the Clipsal 500 Adelaide, all teams took part in a compulsory test session at Sydney Motorsport Park to gather data and were given a 100-gigabyte folder of data from Supercars’ own laboratory testing of the tyres.
|Event||Format||Additional Driver||All Drivers||Soft||Super Soft||Wet|
|Australian Grand Prix||Non-Championship||0||8 S and/or SS||0||16||12|
|Symmons Plains, Tasmania||SuperSprint||4 S and/or SS||12 S and/or SS||0||24||12|
|Barbagallo, Perth||SuperSprint||4 S and/or SS||12 S and/or SS||0||24||12|
|Winton||SuperSprint||4 S and/or SS||12 S and/or SS||0||24||12|
|Hidden Valley, Darwin||SuperSprint||4 S and/or SS||12 S and/or SS||0||24||12|
|Reid Park, Townsville||SuperStreet||0||8S and/or H||0||28||12|
|Queensland Raceway, Ipswich||SuperSprint||4 S and/or SS||12 S and/or SS||0||24||12|
|Sydney Motorsport Park||SuperSprint||4 S and/or SS||12 S and/or SS||0||24||12|
|Sandown||Enduro Cup||0||16 S and/or SS||0||32||20|
|Mount Panorama, Bathurst||Enduro Cup||0||16S||36||0||24|
|Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast||Enduro Cup||0||16 S and/or SS||0||28||20|
|Pukekohe, Auckland||International SuperSprint||0||0||32||0||12|
|Newcastle East Street Circuit||SuperStreet||0||8 S and/or SS||0||28||12|