Legend hits out at 'crazy' Supercars change

2 months ago 12
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Supercars legend John Bowe has urged the category not to introduce paddle shift gear changes when the next generation of cars are unveiled.

Supercars is still investigating the possibility of including a paddle shift system on the back of the steering wheel, such as that used in Formula One, to replace the traditional gear lever.

Having already decided to go with an automatic gear shift (AGS) system, a gear change will now be triggered electronically rather than via a manual linkage. It's still to be decided whether that will be via a paddle shift, or a regular gearshift lever.

The AGS raises the possibility the electronics can automatically control the engine revs on the downshift, known as 'auto-blip', rather than having the driver do so manually with the throttle pedal as is currently the case.

Reigning Bathurst champion Shane van Gisbergen is against the introduction of a paddle shift system. (Getty)

Triple Eight boss Roland Dane is in favour of making the switch when the Gen3 cars are introduced next year, arguing that it will minimise costs by reducing stresses on the engine and gearbox.

But the flipside is the belief that it levels the playing field, negating an advantage currently enjoyed by the very best drivers.

"To go to paddle shifts is a negative step in terms of entertaining the fans," Bowe told Wide World of Sports.

"Call me old fashioned, but part of a driver's skill should be the ability to change gears.

"Supercars is successful because it's entertaining, I can't imagine why they'd even think about making the change."

John Bowe is a two-time Bathurst champion. (Getty)

From the fans' point of view, a move to a paddle shift system would make the in-car footage less interesting to watch, removing the classic heel-and-toe technique, in favour of a system that's simple to master.

Bowe, who won the championship in 1995, as well as the Bathurst 1000 in 1989 and 1994, agrees.

"Anybody can pull a lever," he said.

"I know Formula One has it, IndyCar has it, so actually having a gear lever is something that makes Supercars unique.

"It should be a driver's category, not a category for software engineers."

The majority of drivers are against a switch. Reigning Bathurst champion, Shane van Gisbergen, said earlier this year that the idea should be "thrown in the bin" a suggestion David Reynolds said he supported "100 per cent".

"I don't think there's anybody in Supercars who doesn't know how to heel-and-toe," Bowe explained.

David Reynolds is another who opposes the switch. (Getty)

"But if you watch in-car footage from Formula One, you'd think anybody can do it. Obviously anybody can't do it, but watching it you think you can, because it looks so unspectacular.

"I can't believe they're even considering it for Supercars."

Bowe dismissed the idea of introducing the paddle shift mechanism as a cost saver, arguing that the sport would be better off with the status quo.

"There's no good reason to have it," he said.

"They talk about preserving the engines, but these new engines are going to be made with a very long life anyway, something like 10,000 kms. What do they want? 15,000kms?

"It's crazy. They're doing themselves a big disservice if they introduce a paddle shift."

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