Supercars great Mark Skaife isn’t convinced by the new mixed compound tyre rules, but admits the “socialist” rules have a place in a 2020 season rocked by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Australian-based 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, while Jack Le Brocq at Sydney Motorsports Park and Anton De Pasquale at Darwin scored their first career wins in tyre-limited races.
Only in the last two rounds, the second in Darwin and the first in Townsville, has a move to an all-softs bank seen some normality resume with Scott McLaughlin (four) and Jamie Whincup (two) monopolising the races.
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, but recognises that the abnormal 2020 season – in which multiple Victorian-based teams have been unable to return home due to local lockdown restrictions – is a year where every team needs a bit of “love”.
“I don’t like socialist racing,” Skaife (below, right) told Autosport.
“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.
“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 added that he is “worried about the health and strength of our complete grid”, but said giving out results “that maybe aren’t genuine” risked undermining the efforts of teams to produce a competitive package.
“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,” he said.
“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.