A strategy gamble in today’s 200km race in Darwin didn’t pay off for the Red Bull Racing Australia team, Craig and Jamie coming home 15th and 22nd respectively.
Having failed to extract the best from the Red Bull Holden in qualifying, with J-Dub taking 12th and Lowndesy 15th, the team made a drastic strategy call that, had it worked, would have seen impressive gains for both cars.
With strong performances on the soft tyre yesterday, the data suggested that both cars could last the distance on the faster compound and the team opted to start both cars on softs.
Without a safety car that many predicted after yesterday’s carnage, the stress on the tyres was intensified and both cars suffered delaminated front tyres, Jamie flying into the pits after around 45 laps, followed by Craig shortly after who was running a strong third at the time with great pace.
“We had another tough day at the office. I can’t think of another time we’ve had a day as tough as that,” said Jamie.
“We started twelfth. We had a quick car in qualifying, but I didn’t quite get the job done. We had a good start, I reckon I was eighth or ninth coming into Turn One.
“We went for a pretty radical pit strategy. The engineers went through the data and decided we could last the whole race on the soft tyre. Unfortunately both cars delaminated the front tyre and mine had come off the rear and gone on the front.
“It was a tough day with 200km, but not many points. We’re a fair way off the lead now and we can’t afford any more mistakes, so we’ll look forward to hopefully turning it around in Townsville.”
Despite the disappointing result on his 41st birthday, Craig is still taking confidence from the result: “I’ve got to say that our strategy in the race was pretty spot on. We were running third at the time when we had a tyre problem, which was pretty impressive.
“I think the car was very speedy throughout the day. We had good pace on both the soft and the hard tyre, which was an improvement on yesterday when we were only good on the soft tyre. For me that’s encouraging. We know we’ve got speed there, it’s just unfortunate we had that tyre issue, which delaminated the front tyre, which we’ll have to investigate.
“We’ll take some positives out of it – we had good car speed, we were at the front and we had a great victory yesterday.”
While this weekend seriously hurt Jamie’s championship – he’s now eighth on 879 points – Craig’s win yesterday helped him hang on to second on 1,070 points behind Mark Winterbottom with 1,165 points. Next stop, Townsville!