Debris blamed for Supercars tyre failures

Debris has been named as the likeliest cause of three of the five tyre failures during today’s Queensland Raceway Supercars race, while the cause of Will Davison’s pair of failures is thought to be a mechanical issue.

Debris blamed for Supercars tyre failures
Nick Percat, Brad Jones Racing Holden
Tyre blowout
Nick Percat, Brad Jones Racing Holden
Garth Tander, Garry Rogers Motorsport
 James Courtney, Walkinshaw Racing
James Courtney, Walkinshaw Racing
Tyre blowout
 Alex Davison, Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport Holden
Will Davison, Tekno Autosports Holden
Dunlop tyres
Dunlop tyres

The faster new-spec supersoft Dunlop tyre made its competitive debut at the Ipswich circuit this weekend, the trend of constant lowering the lap record throughout a race meeting culminating in Scott McLaughlin’s lightning quick 1m08.420s in qualifying on Sunday morning.

However Sunday’s 200-kilometre race was affected by five left-front tyre failures in total, with Will Davison (times two), Garth Tander, and Nick Percat all ending up off the road at Turn 3, while James Courtney went off at Turn 1.

According to Dunlop’s Supercars Operations Manager Kevin Fitzsimons, the state of the tyres on return to the pits makes a precise post mortem tricky. However, he says the pattern of Tander, Percat, and Courtney’s failures point to debris or the edge of a kerb puncturing the thin sidewall.

“We’ve had a look at the tyres after they’ve come back to the pits, but once they’ve been driven on like that it just compounds the damage so you can’t sit back and go ‘100 per cent there’s the problem’, unless there’s a big hole in the middle of the tread,” said Fitzsimons.

“The fact that they were so close together points to maybe there was some debris on the edge of the track. We can see on the data there’s a seven-second deflation, so it’s not instant. The seven seconds can be the start of the liner being pierced, and then it just opens up and there’s instant loss of air.

“We’ve seen it here before, with the back edge of the kerbs at Turn 2; you do get shuffled out there a bit, and it’s quite aggressive the aggregate where kerbs finishes. And when the cars divot out, it’s quite coarse there. The tyre is only 2mm thick in the sidewall, so it doesn’t take a lot to pierce that.

“Unfortunately when it comes back, there’s not a lot of the sidewall left, so you can’t even see gravel rash on it. When they come back to you after they’ve been driven on, they’re hot and smouldering and there’s nothing at all you can sit back and point your finger at.”

Separate issue for Davison

What caused Davison’s bizarre failures is less clear, although it is believed to have been a mechanical issue with the car rather than a problem with the tyres. 

The Tekno driver suffered two blow-outs at Turn 3 in quick succession, and was set for a third failure late in the race when he peeled in to the pits to have the rubber inspected.

It was at that point the team elected to pull Davison out of the race.

Davison says the only thing the team knows for sure is that it was an issue with the tyre overheating.

“We could see the temperature of the tyre and the inside edges were getting massively hot,” he said. “Then they were just blowing, very suddenly with no warning. I had two very close calls when they let go, and the third one was just about to go. I pulled in to check it, and, yeah…

“It’s very weird. We need to analyse and see if something else has gone amiss with the car which has created this. The first one went 16 laps in, but after that it was 10 laps, eight laps – it was getting worse and I was going easy on them.

“I really don’t know why, I don’t have an answer right now.

“I’m not going to make any bold statements. We’re obviously doing something wrong, but the tyre did 38 laps yesterday. It wasn’t pretty, but it did it.”

Tyres has already been a sensitive topic once this season, with a spate of failures affecting the racing at the high-load Phillip Island circuit earlier this year.

The series reacted by having Dunlop manufacturer a new batch of the 2016-spec harder compound tyre, which will replace the new-spec soft at the category’s highest profile race, the Bathurst 1000 in October.

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