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Skaife torn on 'socialist' Supercars tyre rules

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Skaife torn on 'socialist' Supercars tyre rules
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Supercars great Mark Skaife isn't convinced by the new mixed compound tyre rules, but admits they have a place in a 2020 season rocked by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Aussie series has been experimental with its tyre regulations since its season resumed in June, trialling two versions of a bank limited to five sets of new rubber – one with both the soft and hard compound Dunlops, and one with only the soft.

The outcome has been a number of surprise results, with 14 of the 24 drivers having bagged podiums and Anton De Pasquale and Jack Le Brocq scoring first career wins in tyre-limited races.

It's only in the last two rounds, the second in Darwin and the first in Townsville, that a move to an all-softs bank has seen some normality resume, Scott McLaughlin winning four of the six races and Jamie Whincup the other two.

While unquestionably adding some intrigue to race weekends, some in the paddock have found the results to be at times too contrived.

Five-time Supercars champion Skaife is sympathetic to that view, his preference good, hard racing that rewards the fastest driver and car in the field.

At the same time, he says 2020 is the sort of year where every team needs a bit of "love".

"I don't like socialist racing," he told Motorsport.com. "When you try and make rules or do things that let everybody get a little bit of joy or a little bit of sugar, it tends to feel either fake or not authentic, in a way.

"My purist answer is to say I think you need to be on the same tyres, and race each other properly. Then the best driver, best team, best job wins the weekend. That's my purist answer.

"But I also acknowledge, especially in times like we're experiencing now, that as a sport that it's good to spread the love a bit and have as many [drivers] getting some coverage and some results to keep sponsors and commercial aspects alive.

"To have 14 of the 24 drivers on the podium so far this year is an excellent outcome."

Skaife stressed that he's not taking an elitist view based on his history with powerhouse squads like the all-conquering Holden Racing Team.

"I'm probably of the view that genuine, authentic, non-gimmick, hardcore racing is what we espouse. That's what the tradition and heritage of our sport has been," he said.

"But there are times... I've been on the [Supercars] board. We've made decisions like this.

"Once upon a time there was no appearance money. Only the lead teams got the prize money. I was part of the plan to take all the prize money out and give everybody some money. All the money went into a pool and everybody got some. So I've been at the forefront of these decisions.

"So I'm not saying I don't value everybody in the field. And I'm not saying at all that I'm only worried about the pointy end of the field. I'm certainly worried about the health and strength of our complete grid.

"But I don't like the thought of trying to give results that maybe aren't genuine. There's a lack of reality.

"Even in historic stakes, if you went and asked Anton De Pasquale, for example – a cool young bloke with a great future – is that the sort of win that you wanted to have for your first win? I don't know. I wouldn't have thought that he'd be doing handstands or jumping for joy...

"Let's give it some perspective; there's only been about 80 race winners in 60 years of racing. You're actually changing the course of history."

The all-soft compound rules will remain in play for this weekend's second leg in Townsville, while the tyre regulations for the double-header at The Bend are yet to be revealed.

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About this article

Series Supercars
Drivers Mark Skaife
Author Andrew van Leeuwen