You’ve probably heard people ask it a thousand times as of late – but are we REALLY half way through the 2016 Supercars Championship?! With seven rounds behind us (with a sneaky AGP in there) and seven more to go, it does indeed look like we’re well and truly there. Yikes!
With JDub and SVG sitting first and second respectively on the leader board, as a whole, the first seven races have been relatively good to us. We can all definitely say the category so far has coughed up a whirlwind of results, and we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs….and gravel traps….
Always on the front line, who better to make a fair evaluation on the rounds to date than Red Bull Racing Australia Team Manager, Mark Dutton? We asked Dutto to reflect on the results and performance to date, to give us a snapshot on how the first half the championship went down.
Clipsal, wow, it is the 2016 season already? New livery, new driver, new crew members, new cars, and same ol’ JDub comes out and proves he wants that single digit back on his car. Winning the first race of the season is always the way we want to start, even better yet his new team mate SVG is on the podium too… big year coming. Sunday – what a day! We jinxed ourselves in our pre-event strategy meeting by saying it never rains at Clipsal… and it didn’t, it poured!
Back to business of scoring points after the AGP, the Apple Isle has been good to us in the past, and Saturday didn’t disappoint with SVG getting his first win of the year with JW coming in second for our first points round 1-2, and securing Holden’s 500th win.
Sunday, the hits kept on coming, with JW having a tough day in the office, only to have SVG off in the final laps on dropped oil at the famous Tassie hairpin while comfortably leading. Worse yet, the car was stuck so 150 points turned to zero in the blink of an eye.
PHILLIP ISLAND SUPERSPRINT
Don’t start the engines too early as it wakes the penguins. Back onto the hard tyres, which are being used a lot less than last year.
We had another solid Saturday with JW coming second, and SVG just off the podium in fourth. With the current trend of unspectacular Sundays, we were mindful not to engineer the cars backwards and, while not sharing in the champagne, the day was not a total loss with some decent points.
Long flights and short laps. Perth is one of my favourite tracks to watch the racing, so many passing moves. TeamVortex makes the gun call on Saturday and CL drives past the two Red Bull Racing Australia cars in the closing laps of the race. Even when the rain came down on the last lap, it couldn’t dampen the spirits of all the Triple Eight team members as we had our first official 1, 2, 3!
This Sunday trend is really getting painful, not a write off but not our Saturday form.
While not high on the list of travel destinations, Winton had been good to us in the past pre current cars (2013). With the recent resurface and a hoodoo to break, the whole team was working overtime. The first Saturday of the year without any silverware only motivated the team to work harder, and for the first time this year better results came on the Sunday, but the hoodoo is still in place.
TRIPLE CROWN DARWIN
Escaping the cold weather to one of the favourite destinations of the year, it was “sun’s out, guns out”. SVG and his big calves lead the way and secured his first pole with the team and our first official for the year on Saturday. A hectic safety car restart to Saturday’s race saw car 97 out of contention as SVG served a pit lane penalty for passing before the control line. Car 88 showed excellent late race pace to charge through up to second.
SVG, sore from Saturday, came out firing, securing his second pole for the weekend and backing it up with the win.
Townsville is another one of those events you look forward to every year. JW showed on Saturday why he is the king of Townsville with a dominant pole position, backed up by the race win. Car 97 was close behind in qualy and race, locking in second in both.
Come Sunday car 88 showed that not only did it have speed but also team spirit, as it gave way for wounded 97 to take its strategy and pit early to replace a badly damaged tyre. SVG wasn’t going to let the good deed go to waste and raced hard to secure the win for the team.
I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts of everyone. At this stage of the season, to have JW and SVG in the Red Bull Racing Australia cars leading the championship, with CL in the TeamVortex car not far behind in fourth is just awesome. There’s a lot of racing still to come, but if we keep improving like we are, we will be in the fight come the end of the year.