It’s that time of the year again. All of us here at the Red Bull Racing Australia workshop just get that LITTLE bit more excited when it comes to enduro season. Sure, it means longer days, longer nights and a fair few cans of Red Bull, but there is nothing better than heading into Sandown knowing we’ve got two bulls ready to charge.
Now that Alex Premat has made his way Down Under, we’ve got both sets of driver combos ready to hit Queensland Raceway for our pre-enduro test day this Thursday. Our newest pairing to date, Alex and Shane (let’s call them… Shalex) will pair up for the very first time, having only ever shared a hot lap around Sydney Motorsport Park together.
But hey, with the driving record behind these two, we have no doubts that there’s going to be some magic (and burnouts) created on track this enduro season.
The man that knows all about it, and more, is car #97 Engineer Grant “Shippy” McPherson, who shares with us his pre-Sandown thoughts.
It’s been a long time coming, how do you feel heading into the Enduros?
I can’t wait to get to the enduro test day and then to Sandown next week. I’m really looking forward to seeing what car #97 and the whole Triple Eight Race Engineering crew can deliver across this next period. With the last seven race wins in a row spread across our stable, we have a good platform to build upon as we work hard to get the Sandown 500 trophy back in our workshop.
You’ve got a new duo on your hands this year with SVG an AP, how do you think they’ll work as a team?
I have no doubt about both Shane and Alex will bring their A-game to the next three events. I can tell that they are both excited about the opportunity for success, and will work together to deliver the maximum possible results.
The test day is coming up on Thursday – what do you hope to achieve?
The focus of this test day is preparation for the endurance format, rather than developing the car. We plan on putting a lot of effort into all aspects of pit stops and driver changes, and maximising laps for Alex. We need to ensure that he is comfortable with both the ergonomics and the handling characteristics of a Triple Eight setup. We will also schedule some race start practice, as Alex will perform between one to five race starts throughout the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
Do SVG and AP have very different driving styles? What are the main differences you can see?
Ride day driving is quite different to racing, as no risks are taken with a passenger and the obvious chassis weight difference with the extra person aboard. We will work hard through data to understand Alex’s different style, but ultimately we will need to train him extra hard to ensure the maximum performance from the same car as Shane.
What will be the key to getting Sandown right?
As always car speed is crucial to getting the win at the 500km race, but this event also exposes any weaknesses in cars, drivers and crews. It is imperative to be mistake free throughout the lead-up and race weekend because there are plenty of combinations capable of winning this race.
The Red Bull Racing Australia Crew hit Sandown raceway September 16 – 18.
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