Roland’s View: A massive weekend of motorsport!

Brodie Kostecki leads the Supercars field into the opening corner of Race 18, under lights in Sydney. Image: Mark Horsburgh/Supercars

Supercars at SMSP wasn’t the only show last weekend. Hence I spent more time glued to the TV than was strictly healthy.

But it was worth it.

SMSP looked superb on Saturday night. Whatever you think of Gen3, the cars looked even more sensational under lights than in daylight. The weather and the crowd looked as good as I can recall in recent years and there appeared to be plenty of pzazz in the precinct.

The size of the crowd does demonstrate that the fundamental support for Supercars is still there, and they don’t all view Gen3 as the disaster that some of the media (and keyboard warriors) would have us believe.

For me, it showed just why Supercars should also be racing under lights on a Saturday night elsewhere – not in Singapore, but at Queensland Raceway. The perfect location for a night race.

Ironically, if Supercars do go to Singapore, they certainly will not be racing under lights! That’s the preserve of F1. Bring on QR for 2024.

I have just one gripe with the Supercars action at the weekend and that’s the ongoing issue of the tyres being so poor that every driver is just tooling around for most of a stint. This problem appeared to be exacerbated by the unseasonably high temperatures on Sunday afternoon.

Most drivers were on eggshells as they tried to balance the life of the tyre and/or the tread surface temperature to the stint length, and it was very visible.

Contrast that with the way that Richie Stanaway could rag the AMG GT3 car on Saturday afternoon throughout a 22-lap run even when battling hard along the way and then again at the end. Sure, he had degradation (it was SMSP after all!) but he could push to the maximum and watching it was actually a highlight of the race weekend.

SMSP has always been a high degradation track for tyres, but it doesn’t have to be this bad.

Even in the last 13 lap green flag stanza of the night race, when everyone was on a similar age tyre, there was some excitement in the first lap or two and then again in the final two or three laps, but, in the middle part, the drivers were almost all driving on those proverbial eggshells as they eked out the tyre life and avoided overheating the tread surface.

At the risk of being called a broken record, put a decent tyre on the Gen3 car and you’ll improve the on-track product immeasurably. Many people in the paddock agree with me, they’re just too frightened to tell the truth and that’s a shame.

Anyway, SMSP was alive and well as an excellent motor racing venue last weekend, which was a pleasure to see. There was also a tremendous support race line up with some great racing.

I’ll call out the Porsche Challenge in particular as Porsche one-make racing isn’t always good to watch. But those races were very watchable, particularly with some fresh young guns making their presence felt.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the World, at Spa-Francorchamps there was plenty of terrific viewing over the weekend.

First call out has to go to Oscar Piastri for his F1 Sprint Race podium. He absolutely nailed it in achieving the best possible result for himself and his team. There’s no way anyone is going to beat Verstappen at the moment unless he or his team make an error. So, Oscar got the maximum from his package – massive congratulations.

Then, after a difficult qualifying session that was rain affected and very dependent upon track position for a decent time, Jack Doohan secured a beautifully executed F2 Feature Race win on Sunday, for the second week in succession. The early season was difficult for Jack with some car issues to overcome, but he’s now showing again just why he should be Australia’s next F1 driver.

And finally, young Christian Mansell excelled in the F3 Feature Race with a brilliant second place. Christian had a truly dreadful qualifying session on Friday that left him back in 23rd spot and so he, like a bunch of other runners, mostly in the second half grid, opted for wet tyres for the race in the changeable conditions.

That proved to be the right choice and he fought for the lead for much of the race before settling for a highly deserved second podium of his debut F3 season.

I can’t sign off without making comment about the use of bad language on air during and immediately after the Supercars race on Saturday night.

For many years I told Supercars personnel that they cannot expect drivers, in the heat of the moment, to always moderate their language on the radio. Either accept it or delay and bleep it.

So, for me, any criticism of Cam Waters, as he reacted to news of the pit lane penalty, is unjustified. With all the technology that is available to them, Supercars need to treat car radio exchanges the same way as Formula One do.

By the same token, Barry Ryan was completely out of order in his use of profanities directly to the camera immediately post-race.

Most of us swear, and I’m certainly guilty, but not a Team Principal directly into the live feed when everyone is trying to broaden the fan base as much as possible and bring kids into the fold.

It was barely 9pm on a Saturday night so you can’t hide behind some sort of ‘watershed’ argument given that families will be watching the whole race. I’m sure that the Erebus naming rights sponsor would be far from happy, and that Barry deeply regrets his language with the benefit of hindsight.

As those who have worked with me know, I did, for years, stress the avoidance of the live use of bad language in every single pre-event briefing. Whether half the kids in the country are swearing regularly is not the point. There is an expectation from the majority of fans and sponsors for the Sport to maintain a decent standard during live transmissions.

Supercars should now issue very clear guidance (as was done years ago) on what is acceptable and what is not, especially in terms of driver radio transmissions.

Some years ago, engineers used to get into serious trouble for even questioning race control decisions on the radio! Ask Campbell Little. Thankfully we appear to have moved on from that sort of censorship, but profanities should be cut out or delayed and bleeped, otherwise it appears hypocritical to viewers to accept them during radio transmissions but not in the garage. Save it for Netflix or whatever.

Anyway, plenty of positives from the weekend of Motorsport. And if you’re into two wheeled action at all, do yourself a favour and watch Race 2 of the World Superbike Championship from Most in the Czech Republic last Sunday. Some outstanding action!

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