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Last years tyres were not crossply they were radial the same as this years. What has changed since last year is last year the tyres had a kevlar belt under the tread where this years have a steel belt. The other change is this years tyres recently had a change to the tread bonding process in reaction to the delaminations that occurred early this season.
With regards to the support races interesting question & one that is answered easily. All the support classes use control spec tyres that are fitted, inflated & set by the tyre supplier at whatever pressure they reccomend. unlike the control tyre in F1 the teams can not change the tyre pressures they run what they are given.
The more information that comes out about these punctures the more it points to teams using less than recommended tyre pressures allowing the sidewall to roll more in the corners, these then wear quickly because they are not supposed to be a contact surface & eventually they give in.