New control items and technical regulations for Supercars are being trialled at a pre-season test at Phillip Island in Australia this week.
The changes to the cars this year include a new Xtrac transaxle gearbox, a revamped Motec Electronic Control Unit, and the mandating of linear-spring dampers. Implemented to decrease maintenance costs, the Xtrac transaxle replaces the Albins unit that had been a control item since the current rule package was introduced in 2013.
Changes to the ECU have meanwhile focused on firmware upgrades, bringing the control unit up to date with the latest Motec developments. The firmware, which cannot be altered by teams, controls functions such as the shiftcut, allowing flat upshifts, and pitlane speed limiter.
Changes for 2019 include revised lambda control, limiting how much teams can lean out their engines, which would previously cause damage and therefore increase costs. The revisions also allow for a planned future roll-out of an in-car yellow flag warning light and GPS tracking system trialled at the recent Bathurst 12 Hour.
Phillip Island also marks the first time all cars are running linear springs, following the banning of the complex twin and even triple-spring setups of recent years. Removed in the name of reducing labor costs and leveling the playing field, the impact of the linear-spring rule is currently unknown.
Shell V-Power Racing boss Ryan Story, whose driver Scott McLaughlin won the title last year, said the linear spring change has the potential to shake-up the pecking order.
“It’s going to be interesting. I think Erebus will come out of the box really strongly,” he predicted. “They’ve quite famously run linear and won Bathurst with it a couple of years ago and nearly won the thing last year with a similar sort of setup.
“I think it will shake the pecking order up a little bit. It certainly requires a bit less labor on mechanics pressing springs and getting things ready between sessions. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. We look forward to the challenge and we’ll make that work for us.”