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Supercars Hidden Valley

Supercars VSC test sparks drama

A test of a system that could feasibly act as a virtual safety car for Supercars has sparked drama at the Darwin Triple Crown.

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The series kick started a trial of a 120 km/h speed limiter system in the opening practice session at Hidden Valley by fitting it to Shane van Gisbergen's Red Bull Camaro.

The idea was to test the system on the #97 entry in practice 1 before spreading it around on different cars for a more extensive trial at the end of practice 2.

However that now seems unlikely after the system wreaked havoc on van Gisbergen's session, his car limited to 120 km/h for 18 minutes of the half-hour session.

Supercars is currently remaining tight-lipped on the system, with the trial still in its very early stages.

Motorsport.com understands the idea is to develop a system where drivers are limited to a set speed and will have to activate the limiter as soon as a safety car is called.

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The first benefit to that would be to stop the current practice of racing to the safety car line at full speed to gain track position, which regularly sees cars speeding past the incident that prompted the caution.

It could also feasibly be used as a virtual safety car, as is seen in Formula 1.

However at this stage there are no decisions on how it would be executed, with the focus on simply getting the limiter to work.

Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton was left unimpressed with the loss of useful track time for van Gisbergen in that session, but took the blame for allowing the Kiwi to be a guinea pig for Supercars.

"What we were trying to help Supercars with is looking towards the future and how we can improve the safety," said Dutton.

"Launching a safety car takes time to slow the field. This was a systems check for a safety car limiter. This wasn't the refined version, it was just, okay, let's have a button to enact this safety car speed limit.

"Unfortunately it cost us massively, it pretty much destroyed our session. He could do 120 km/h, and you can't do a very good lap time when you're limited to 120 km/h.

"[The crew] has lost all this time, all the prep work and the build up has been thrown out the window. You're in recovery mode to try and get back to learning something. We'll work hard to make sure it doesn't have a lingering knockoff effect for the rest of the weekend.

"The sessions are so short and the field is so tight that you can't afford to have this happen.

"Ultimately this comes down as a mistake on my part as team manager to not say, 'no, we're not going to do this; let's do this at a test day'. You try and be nice and do it for the category. It's been a very expensive lesson today."

As for when this system could be formally introduced, Dutton reckons the drama today shows that there is still a lot of work to do.

"You've got to refine it and make it work first," said Dutton.

"Clearly a lot of smart people from MoTec and Supercars, and even our guys that were involved, they thought it was going to run okay there. But it didn't.

"You don't want to put any dates on things right now. And in general you've got to be careful bringing things in mid-season.

"That said, if we can get it tuned up, anything that improves the safety, we should bring it in as soon as possible, as soon as it is reliable. Hence why we were motivated to help with this, because it's about safety."

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