Softly does it
Contenders tyre choices for Brands Hatch confirmed
The word ‘choice’ doesn’t really come into play when discussing which race our title contenders will run the Dunlop SportMaxx soft tyre at Brands Hatch this weekend as the decision is already known by process of elimination.
As a new rule introduced for 2015 each car must use the Dunlop Sport Maxx soft tyre for one race per 9 events, with the high-speed Thruxton circuit not applying, but each car must use them three times in race one, three times in race two and three times in race three during the course of the season.
This basically means that drivers who have contested the full season so far are completely out of choices coming into Brands Hatch, so the contenders already know what they are all facing.
Jason Plato has more race two pole positions than any other driver by virtue of setting the fastest lap in the opening contest at each event, but this Sunday he will face a trio of challenges in the opening bout. As the only championship contender running the SportMaxx soft compound in race one, Plato will have to look after his tyres while also trying to win the race and set a fastest lap – not an easy challenge according to Dunlop’s Mickey Butler.
“It’s a difficult one for Jason [Plato],” he said. “He’s got to go for it due to the 23 points deficit to Gordon [Shedden], but he also has to have one eye on setting himself up for races two and three.
“Gordon can afford to be a little more conservative and stick to his game plan. He’ll run the soft tyre in the second race, but Honda will watch what happens with the soft tyre for Jason and some of the others in race one before deciding on set-up for race two. That’s what they did at Silverstone and it worked for them. Also race two is often the warmest of the day, which will suit the soft tyre.”
9000 tyres, 501 laps, NO wets… – click below to download Dunlop’s end of season InfoGraphic:
The stats, however, suggest that race two has been where the medium compound shines with the podium places being occupied by standard runners throughout the entire season. Race one has been the most fruitful of them all in terms of podiums, with soft tyre-shod machines claiming wins at three of the last four events – albeit in what have been some of the warmest events of the campaign. Matt Neal’s race three win at Brands Hatch on the opening day of the season was the only triumph for the compound in any of the events final encounters.
“Jason may also be hoping for rain as we all know what he’s capable of in those conditions, particularly at Brands Hatch, but you can’t rule any of them out to be honest,” notes Mickey.
The weather forecast is currently dry for the weekend ahead, meaning the BTCC could incredibly be heading for an all-dry 2015 season.
“I’ve been here for years and that’s certainly never happened in my time,” continued Butler. “I think we had a bit of rain in a practice session at Knockhill but we haven’t used any wet tyres in racing conditions. It’s quite remarkable really particularly when you consider we used 650 wet tyres back in 2014.”
Matt Neal and Andrew Jordan will also run the soft tyre in race two, whilst reigning champion Colin Turkington could be in prime position by using the compound in the final showdown of the season.
“Colin can go all out attack and he needs to of course,” concluded Butler. “He can run his normal weekend right up until race three, so if he can just keep himself in contention until that point then who knows.
“It has been proven that you can make any tactic work if you get it right though, so it really is all still to play for.”