Supercars to adopt electronic shifting

Supercars to adopt electronic shifting

The future of gear shifting in the category has been a contentious issue in recent months, as Supercars officials have investigated dumping the manual sequential stick shift for paddle shift.

While the paddle shift debate is yet to be resolved, Supercars has confirmed that the existing manual shift will definitely be replaced by an Automatic Gear Shift system on the Gen3 cars.

The six-speed Xtrac transaxle that will be carried over as the control gearbox can be configured to utilise AGS.

Supercars will then test both stick and paddle shifts during the prototype testing phase, set to begin in August.

“It will be electronic shift, whatever happens, there will be an electronic actuator on the gearbox that will actually make the shift,” said Supercars’ Head of Motorsport Adrian Burgess.

“The only difference is whether the signal is coming from a flipper on the steering wheel or from the lever.

“We’ll test both of those systems when the prototypes are up and running.”

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The AGS move also opens the door for an automated blip system to be employed.

While considered a potential cost-saver in terms of gearbox and engine life, an automated blip would effectively kill off the classic heel-and-toe technique and make the cars significantly easier to drive.

For that reason it, like the paddles, has little support from current drivers.

According to Burgess a final decision on whether to activate the auto blip is yet to be taken.

“The modern ECUs, even in our current ECU, you can turn throttle blip on and off,” he explained.

“In an ideal world, for the long life of the gearbox and the engine, this is why you want electronic shifts – it will protect the engine and protect it from over-revs. You can have a cleaner gear shift because the ECU is controlled in the blip, as opposed to the driver controlling the blip.

“With the current system, the driver can over-rev and we do see huge differences from one team to another in how good their drivers are at protecting the engine.

So, we can do any of them. We can leave the gearbox as is and just have a gear lever and let the driver do the blip.

“Or, if we want to save costs and we want to protect the engines better, and we want more life out of the gearboxes, then we go to the other extreme where you take control of the blip and you have a paddle shift gearbox.

“It’s a big debate. Is it the show? Should it be in the driver’s hands? Should it be in the hands of the software writers?

“There’s lots of implications to the show, to the product, but equally to the teams in terms of gearbox life, engine life.

“We’re trying to make these cars easier to work on, longer lasting. We’re trying to reduce the operational costs incurred by the teams. So, it’s not a straight forward answer, as much as some people hope – people who are really passionate about having a gear lever.

“You can still have a gear lever. The key bit is whether you do the blip or not. That’s the bit that we need to probably overcome or have the debate and make a decision.”

Burgess recognised that there’s been backlash over the gear shift debate from drivers and fans, that feedback set to be considered by the Gen3 steering committee as it makes these decisions.

“We’ll take feedback from everywhere,” he said. “We obviously understand the fan base is vocal, and as it should be, so all these things will be taken into account when we make a decision.”

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