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Tyre Blowouts Cost Weeks and Hunt at Phillip Island

Sep 6

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011 5:32 PM  RssIcon

 

Repeated right rear tyre failures have cost Kevin Weeks and Josh Hunt a potential podium result in Round 5 of the Australian GT Championship at Phillip Island on the weekend.
                           
Weeks and Hunt were consistently fast throughout practice in the Supaloc Lamborghini Gallardo GT3, with Weeks topping the weekend’s final practice session on Saturday morning.
 
In qualifying, Weeks and Hunt ended up fifth on the grid, just 0.6 of a second off pole position. Weeks made a strong start in Race 1 and moved up to third by Turn 2, before suffering a vibration in the right rear forcing him to be conservative and drifting back to sixth.
 
Weeks pitted on Lap 13 to hand the car over to Josh Hunt, with the team taking the opportunity to change the right-rear tyre. Hunt later pitted, was unfortunately unable to rejoin the circuit and did not finish.
 
In Race 2, Kevin again made a storming start, moving from 12th on the grid up to third within the first two laps. He then started pursuing the race leaders, Peter Hackett and Greg Crick, and was reeling them in at 0.5 of a second every lap. He closed to within 4.1 seconds of Crick before the right-rear tyre blew on the exit of the final corner.
 
“I had to do a complete slow lap of the circuit on a blown tyre to get back to pit-lane,” Weeks said. “It was frustrating, because up until then the car felt really strong.
 
“The car set the fastest lap of the race and we were looking good for a top-three finish.”
 
However, Weeks and Hunt were excluded post-race for pre-warming the right rear tyre. This tyre was heated at the advice of Michelin tyre technicians as a means of reducing the chance of failure.
 
In the interest of safety, the team was not prepared to risk a high-speed tyre failure, which could have potentially caused a really nasty accident. The team was acting with the safety of the drivers as the highest priority.
 
Throughout the weekend, a number of competitors experienced right rear tyre blowouts. Both Lamborghinis were affected badly and the Supaloc entry blew three right rear tyres over the course of the event. All of the other brands of GT3 cars run wider and higher profile rear tyres. The current Australian category regulations require the Lamborghini LP520 to run the same size tyres all around.
 
This results in extra stress concentration within the rear tyre sidewalls on the Lamborghinis. A track like Phillip Island, where seven of the nine high-speed corners are left handers, highlights this issue. 
 
The tyre situation was disappointing, because both drivers drove exceptionally well throughout the weekend.
 
A positive to come out of the weekend, is the recognition that the Lamborghini needs to move to the higher-profile rear tyre size as they have done in the European FIA GT3 Championship.

Supaloc Racing will be working to have the larger tyre introduced for the next round of the Australian GT Championship at Bathurst which also has a very high average speed, including the fastest corner on any Australian circuit, the right-hand kink on the entry to the Chase.

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