Take a six-time Aussie V8 Supercar champion, pair him with a three-time Aussie Formula One Grand Prix winner, and drop the two of them into one of Australia’s most famous racing venues on the eve of the 2016 F1 world champion season. Set them against a backdrop of a picture-perfect Melbourne autumn day. And then add the key ingredient – the fully race-spec’d Triple Eight Project Sandman.
Sound like a recipe for something special? It was for Jamie Whincup and Daniel Ricciardo at Sandown this week when the Red Bull Racing Australia V8 star and the Red Bull Racing F1 ace let loose in the one-of-a-kind Triple Eight Sandman. Over 700 horsepower of V8 goodness propelled by a six-speed electro-hydraulic paddle shift gearbox and Formula One inspired fly-by-wire throttle control. It’s unlike anything Ricciardo has ever driven.
Cutting his motorsport teeth in karting and progressing through a steady stream of formula cars until he made it to F1 made Ricciardo a little confused by the pedal on the left (that’d be a clutch, Dan), but he made full use of it and the Sandman’s capabilities around the fabled Sandown layout. Often sideways and always fast, Ricciardo lapped up every second of his first foray in a V8 Supercar.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect but driving the Triple Eight Sandman was a lot of fun, I was surprised how responsive the car was,” he said afterwards, flashing that signature beaming smile.
“It’s been great to spend time with Red Bull Racing Australia and Jamie Whincup because V8 Supercars is something I grew up watching as a kid.”
Whincup’s verdict? “We definitely let it rip,” he laughed.