IT WON’T be in the public conversation, but competitors expect the differences between Dunlop and Kumho rubber will be on full show in this weekend’s Super2 Series / Super3 series combined field at the Truck Assist Sydney SuperSprint.
WORDS: Richard Craill IMAGE: Super3 / Dirk Klynsmith
The unique grid sharing arrangement will see the two Supercar tiers share the same track at the Sydney venue, though will essentially be racing separately for their own trophies and championships.
While Dunlop holds the naming rights and the control tyre supply to the Super2 Series, the Super3 / V8 Touring Cars runners will continue to utilise their existing Kumho tyres – though without any branding on the cars, given the Dunlop backing Supercars enjoys.
Still, it is a unique situation that returns mixed-tyre Supercars racing to the track for the first time since the end of the 1998 championship.
Kumho have supported the third-tier Supercars series in each of the 12 seasons contested to date, a notable relationship given the long-term Dunlop deal with both the Supercars main-game and Development series.
Leading Super3 contender Jon McCorkindale is the most experienced of the outright runners in the championship this year and believes the differences between the opposing tyre compounds will be worth watching.
“The Dunlop will be much quicker than us in one-lap pace, there’s no doubt, but over a race distance things will be very different,” McCorkindale said.
At 18 laps, this weekend’s combined races will be longer than a majority of Super3 series races contested in the past, adding another variable for the field to manage.
“The tyre degradation at Sydney Motorsport Park is significant, as we saw a few weeks ago in the Supercars. Over an 18-lap race, the Super2 guys are likely to start in the 1m33s but be doing 1m35s or ‘36s by the end of the race.
“The Kumho doesn’t have one-lap pace but will be much, much more consistent over the race distance so following that over the duration will be really interesting. Based on what we know about the Kumho Tyre, I think we’ll be in reasonable shape to still be pushing at the end of the race.
“There’s a chance that by the end of the race the leading Super3 cars will be lapping quicker than the Super2 guys at the front.”
Both categories have history at the Western Sydney circuit and previous lap times could indicate the two grids could feature some close competition between Super2 and Super3 runners.
Super2 last raced at Sydney Motorsport Park in 2017, Richie Stanaway setting the lap record at 1m32.9579s in his cameo for what was then Prodrive Racing.
Tyler Everingham holds the Super3 series lap record at 1m32.6693s – three tenths quicker than Stanaway – set a year later during the series’ last visit during the 2018 Muscle Car Masters event.
Garry Jacobson qualified on pole for Super2 in 2017 with a 1m31.4240, while qualifying for the Super3 series was run in wet conditions the last time they visited.
McCorkindale has been a perennial frontrunner in the Super3/V8 Touring Cars series with one round win (Phillip Island 2017), four podium finishes, and two race wins achieved across his 16 round starts to date.
A challenging build-up to this weekend’s round saw his brand-new engine drop a valve on just his second lap of a pre-season test last week, necessitating a frantic rush to get the engine back to builders Mostech, in Queensland, for repairs.
Later diagnosed as a component failure, the engine builders repaired and quickly turned around McCorkindale’s engine in time for this weekend – with it being installed in the car today (Friday) in time to hit the track Sunday.
He’s hopeful that a return to Sydney Motorsport Park, the scene of his last race victory, will reward his perseverance with a strong result his weekend.
“Last year was the worst I’ve had in the sport, but it only motivated me to rebound stronger this year,” he explained.
“We’ve put all our time and money into the car and the engine package to get us up to specification and patch up several of the areas where we lacked in 2019. The engine will be a big step forward and we’re always working on the chassis to find more.
McCorkindale has confirmed that major partner Dial Before You Dig has returned to the team this year, the 12th year of a long-term relationship with the brand.