DRIVERS have slammed the policing of curb jumping at the Surfers Paradise Street Circuit, following opening day action at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500.
The supercars returned to the streets of the Queensland city’s glitter strip for the first time since October 2019 with two 30-minute practice sessions.
The sessions were peppered with drivers whose lap times were banned for triggering the electronic curb jump sensors placed at Turn 2 and in the chicane at the edge of the beach.
Drivers will also see lap times waived for curb violations in qualifying, while a yet-to-be-determined number of strikes will be allowed in races before penalties are issued.
Although the combination of electronic sensors and tire beams has been used by Supercars for a few years, drivers have described today’s violations as “random”.
“It’s very confusing as drivers, you don’t know where the line is,” said Shane van Gisbergen, who is on the verge of securing his third Supercars championship title.
“You just come out of the wing and out of hope. A few times there I cut and didn’t jump off the curb so I’m very confused. I just go around and if they tell me it’s a hop, it’s a hop.
“You just have no idea in the car whether you’re jumping or not.”
Will Davison was fast in both sessions but described it as “one of the most confusing days” he’s had at Surfers Paradise Street Circuit.
“I don’t want to sit here and shit-may too much, but it was very frustrating of me today, it seemed to change a lot,” he said.
“Whether it’s the change in your car, if it sits on two more wheels, but certainly the cuts at the end (of the session), I wasn’t cutting the corner, but I couldn’t trigger it in the first one.
“It’s annoying. I literally drove on new tires thinking how not to trigger it and you don’t really know where your benchmark is.
“You just get conservative at the end just to get a ride on the board. It’s boring because it’s fun through the chicane, but sometimes it’s just a bit of a lottery.
Speaking directly after Practice 2, Supercars Race Director James Taylor explained that officials can also review infractions via video.
“Teams have access to the practice and qualifying recording system, so they know which section they’re jumping into,” he said.
“But that’s off for the races, so we’re the only ones with our eyes on that because we’re watching with warnings.
“We have a camera in both chicanes to get a visual. If a team says “no, it’s wrong, the electronic system doesn’t work”, we have a visual.
“The electronic system is, barring electronic failure, infallible.
“All of our timekeepers are in the same places in the cars, so it works. It gives you a level of consistency and eliminates human error.
“Tomorrow we will sit down with the stewards and consider the distance of the race (and decide on the number of curb cuts allowed in the races).
“We want to watch him, but we don’t want to be seen as the watcher.”
Adding to driver complaints today, officials had to reposition the tire packs in the beachside chicane during an early red flag period in Practice 2.
Unbeknownst to Supercars officials, the packages had been removed from the tops for the previous Porsche Carrera Cup session and were to be returned.
“Apparently Shane was the first person to pick him while he was driving,” Taylor said. “He said, ‘they opened it, it’s linear’. He caught it faster than us.
“We plan to neutralize the session because the sidewalk hits went through the roof. Will Brown forced our hand and we ran the whole process (during red flag).