Winton. It’s a love-hate relationship. Actually, there’s very little love, at least for the last few years anyway.
As most of you will know, it’s been by far Triple Eight’s worst track in recent years. Some of you might remember the glory days of old when we accumulated eight race wins in seven years, but it’s been a dry old run since our last victory in 2012. Don’t tell anyone, but sadly we’ve only had one podium at the Victorian circuit during the Car of the Future (COTF) era.
“I’d like to say I know all the answers, but I don’t!” says RBHRT Team Manager Mark “Dutto” Dutton.
True. If we knew why we were having such a bad run, we’d have fixed it by now. Surely?
Maybe not because it seems that every time we think we’ve identified how to go faster, another variable changes and we’re back to square one.
“It is quite difficult because you roll out for the first few rounds of the year and every year the cars behave slightly differently because the tracks are changing, tyres can sometimes be slightly different depending on batch or the different formats as well can get you,” Dutto continues.
This is true for all tracks and the whole category each year though, but for some reason it’s tricky little Winton that continues to fox us.
“We haven’t had a clean run at Winton. I’m not making excuses, but we did have some performance the first year of COTF, but then we had some mechanical failures.
“Later, we didn’t adapt quick enough in the year when they filled up the cracks with the silicone-like substance. And then there was the resurfacing. So we haven’t adapted well enough for the circuit.
“Sometimes people can be weak at their test circuits, but since COTF, all the teams that test there have lifted their game and we haven’t adapted quick enough.”
If you’d spoken to any of Triple Eight’s engineers at the end of last year, they’d have told you that nailing Winton was pretty high on their list of goals for 2017. Along with Miranda Kerr, but we put that one on the unrealistic pile.
So, have those whiz kids and brain boxes got any ideas up their sleeves to help us at least catch a glimpse of the podium?
“We’re confident in ourselves, but the competition has stepped up their game,” says Dutto between stealing glances at the TV that’s got the Perth SuperSprint on loop. What’s more motivating than a constant reminder that you’re not on top? Just kidding.
(Or are we…?)
“Even if we’re better than we have been in previous years in Winton, we need to step up another level again to be with our competition. Everyone has lifted their game this year so we need to operate where we know we can.
“We’ve identified that we’ve not been at our maximum potential at a lot of the rounds this year, so we’re hoping to improve that to maximise the package and the people we have. And that’s at every track, let alone Winton.
“We’re confident we do have some ideas to improve for this year.”
Dutto, we hope you’re right. And Winton? We’re coming for you.