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It’s Game On at The Bend

Break? What break?

After a mammoth four-week festival of racing, the Supercars circus is heading back down south. Destination: Tailem Bend.

With only three rounds left to race in season 2020 and the margin to the top step of the drivers’ championship only 143 points away, it’s all on the line for Jamie ‘JDub’ Whincup.

“The Bend is no doubt one of the best circuits we have in this country. We are so happy to have such a high-quality facility to go racing which was much needed after 19 years after the last. A long straight mixed with fast flowing corners makes it really challenging,” JDub said.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury to circulate and collect points, not that that’s our style anyway. We’re 143 points down and need to take risks on and off the track in an attempt to bridge the gap.”

The bulls’ last podium at The Bend was in 2018, which saw JDub and Shane ‘SVG’ van Gisbergen take out Sunday’s race with a one-two, respectively. 

So, what do you remember from that race, SVG?

“JDub and I were quite fast that weekend, so hopefully we can get somewhere close to that again.

“It’s a really good track to drive on when you have a nice car. I remember we had a couple of rockets that year and to get a one-two in the first year of racing at Tailem Bend was awesome,” SVG said.

Looking forward to this weekend, the bulls are confident their momentum from Townsville and their pace from Supercars’ pre-season testing at Tailem Bend will put them in good stead for the next two weekends of racing.

“It’s a cool track but very tough on the cars. I think qualifying is the most important because it’s near impossible to pass people, so you really have to qualify well at The Bend.

“We’re just going to try our best, have some fun and get some good results,” SVG said.

“We take some confidence out of the fact we were competitive at the test day, but we are going there with a much different setup than that having adopted some of the stuff we have learnt the last few months,” JDub said.

“Wish us luck!”

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RD Explains Team Movements

Four rounds of Supercars action in four weeks.

For many of us, it’s like Christmas has come early, but for our crew on the road, it presents many challenges.

The next three weeks are going to be demanding; mentally, physically, and logistically. To better understand what our crew will be up to during this ‘festival of racing,’ we sat down with team boss Roland ‘RD’ Dane to explain the team’s movements over this period.

“The plan currently is that they’re up in Darwin between the two events and are deliberately staying up there just in case there’s any change of circumstances beyond our control. Hopefully, there won’t be any changes, but we’re playing it safe,” RD said.

“Post-Darwin #2, the plan is that the team will return to Brisbane, then fly to Townsville two days later, and everyone else will be there by the Friday. This allows our crew a couple of days back in Brisbane to catch up with family, get some clean clothes and then head back up north.

“They will stay up in Townsville for ten days to do the two events up there, and then will return back to Brisbane. We’re awaiting instructions from Supercars as to what happens after Townsville.”

A weekend of racing for anyone involved with the sport is quite taxing, let alone four consecutive weeks. When asked how the team will keep mentally and physically fit, RD explained the importance of allowing the team to have time off when there’s opportunities to do so.

“Race weekends are quite taxing particularly on the Saturdays from what the guys have told me, but there’s also the opportunity to have several days downtime during the week between events, which gives them an ability to recharge their batteries. By the time we get to the conclusion of Townsville #2, I reckon the whole of pit lane, whether it’s officials, team crews et cetera will be ready for a well-deserved break.”

Red Bull Holden Racing in Townsville

During the break between both Darwin rounds, the garages at Hidden Valley Raceway will become a makeshift home-base for the crew, which allows the team to prepare the cars for another weekend of racing in the Top End.

“The Darwin garages are available for teams to work on the cars. There will obviously be differing amounts of work to be completed car-to-car depending on what sort of weekend you’ve had.

“There’s also things like crew suits which have to be washed, de-briefs to be done and analytics to be reviewed with regards to on-track performance. Those sorts of things are easy to do away from the factory, but the engineers who are here (Triple Eight Race Engineering workshop) give them some support during the week in terms of inputs as well,” RD explained.

When asked how grateful he was to the Victorian teams who have sacrificed so much to keep the Supercars season alive, RD offered nothing but praise.

“They have made the biggest sacrifice. I think everyone is now having to make personal sacrifices that were inconceivable a few months ago, but the Victorian teams are clearly away for much longer, which is extremely taxing for them, and we are massively appreciative for what they’re doing.

“I think the only upside for a lot of them is that they’re in better weather, and have much more freedom than what they would have if they were still in Melbourne at the moment, so there’s a small silver lining for them.”

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Townsville Takeover

The Supercars circus continues its north Australian tour. Next stop: Townsville!

The streets of Townsville have been a happy hunting ground for the team over the past decade, and like the Mad Cow Tavern on a Saturday night, we’re hoping the champagne bottles get a fair workout this weekend.

“We’ve always enjoyed going to Townsville since it was introduced to the Supercars calendar in 2009. We have had some great results there in the past but that doesn’t guarantee anything this weekend,” says Jamie ‘JDub’ Whincup.   

“Coming off a poor showing at Darwin last weekend, we have some work to do to be fast this weekend.”

A return to Townsville means a return to street circuits, and yes, we’re just as excited as you!

“Street tracks are a fantastic part of our sport as it brings the entertainment to the people and there is not much better than the parklands circuit in Townsville. It’s actually a hybrid circuit with really good racing corners around the back of the track which give it a best-of-both-worlds feel.”

If you’re having flashbacks to Townsville 2019, you’ll remember the absolute mayhem from Sunday’s race. Torrential rain, fire balls (the one in pit lane, not the ones flowing at the casino that night) and a win for Shane ‘SVG’ van Gisbergen.


“Townsville is an awesome track – I love it,” SVG said.

“After a few changes to #97 in Darwin last weekend, the car overall is in pretty good nick so we’ll be looking to come out of the blocks fast.”

How about #88, JDub?

“Thankfully, we have some new parts coming up from our Banyo base to repair the car properly from the last fortnight. We hit the wall hard and had some decent damage from car on car contact.  

“The boys will work hard this week making it look and feel brand new again – they do such a good job. The key is getting through these coming weekends with limited damage.”

This week marks the fourth week on the road for the bulls, albeit minimal compared to our Victorian counterparts. With an emphasis to keep team mortal high, JDub says the Supercars fraternity are working hard to keep putting on a show for our fans.

“We’re all hanging in there and lucky we have racing to keep the brain focused,” said JDub.

“It’s our partners who are doing it tough, but we share the challenge with a lot of the community. Together we will all get through this stronger.” The Townsville SuperSprint begins this weekend and features three 39-lap races. Tickets to the event can be purchased here.

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Ampol Returns to Australian Motorsport

Iconic Australian fuel brand Ampol will make its return to Australian motorsport for the first time in 25 years when the Supercars Championship descends on Darwin this weekend. 

Following Caltex Australia’s recent decision to transition back to Ampol, the Red Bull Holden Racing Team will kickstart the brand’s re-emergence in motorsport by updating the car livery and race s

Speaking on the transition, #88 driver Jamie ‘JDub’ Whincup is hoping to welcome back the brand with some competitive results this weekend.

“Ampol has a long history in Australian motorsport and I’m excited that the Red Bull Holden Racing Team is part of its return.

“We’ll have the new Ampol and Amplify Premium Fuels logos on our cars from this weekend onwards and we’ll be doing our best to give the brand a successful return to the track,” said JDub.

In 2020, Ampol is set to amplify its sponsorship with the team, rolling out fan engagement activations throughout the Supercars season.

#888 co-driver Craig Lowndes will head up the ‘Ampol Pit Stop’, a premium webinar series providing exclusive insight into the Red Bull Holden Racing Team and the personnel that keep the show on the road.

The new premium fuels brand, Ampol Amplify, sees Ampol’s return as a tier one fuel brand with world-class, high-quality fuels that customers can rely on.

Australians will start to see Ampol service stations popping up around the country in the coming months, with the transition to be complete by end of 2022.

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It’s Top End Time

Blimey! Is it really that time of year?

Supercars are heading north to the land of sun and salties, and the Red Bull Holden Racing Team are looking forward to a ‘you beaut’ time in the Top End.

For Shane ‘SVG’ van Gisbergen, driver of the #97 Red Bull Holden Commodore, the Hidden Valley circuit has treated him well in the past, where he’s scored two wins and nine podiums since debuting in 2008.

“The racing in Darwin is always really competitive.

“The track was resurfaced a couple of years ago, so it’s really fast-paced. Overall, the racing at Hidden Valley is good and the fans up north are great – it’ll be so good to see them around the circuit again,” SVG said.

“This round will be an interesting one. They’ve kept the whacky tyre rules from Sydney, so we’re going to have to decide what the best strategies will be and try to do the best we can with the tyres we have.

“Our aim is to be competitive over the three races and try to bank as many points as we can.”

This year’s Darwin Triple Crown will be a special event for SVG, notching up his 400th Supercars Championship race start. Known for his love of scorching temperatures and intense humidity, we can’t think of a better place to celebrate his milestone.

For Jamie ‘JDub’ Whincup, SVG’s teammate since 2016, watching the Kiwi climb through the motorsport ranks over the years has been memorable to watch.

“It’s been awesome to watch first-hand the shy, skinny kid from New Zealand come of age and be one of the best touring car competitors the world has seen,” JDub said of SVG’s achievement.

“He was fast out of the blocks, ruffled a few feathers early on, and now has a deadly mix of raw speed and experience in the prime of his career.  He’s been a fantastic teammate that I have enjoyed so many great battles with.”

So, if you’re up the Top End of town this weekend, make sure you ‘hava gander’ at the Supercars action – we look forward to seein’ ya there!

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Quashing the Helmet Questions

You might be wondering, what happens at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team workshop away from the track?

The answer? We like to bust the hard-hitting questions, and there’s been a few that have rolled across our desk that we would like to settle relating to one particular topic – driver helmets.

Why does SVG wear a visor on his helmet but JDub does not?

SVG: “It’s not something I’ve thought about really. There’s no real reason why I use one, I just always have. Sometimes I run it up, sometimes I run it down.”

JDub (aka Captain Team No-Visor): “I don’t think a visor is needed in a Supercar, as you have a windscreen that does the job of a visor. For me, looking through a second pane of plastic isn’t necessary.”

How do you decide what artwork to put on your helmet? 

SVG: “I’m fortunate enough to be a Red Bull athlete, so I work with those guys to come up with a cool design every year. I like to make sure I add a few Kiwi touches as well.”

JDub: “I work with my helmet painter every year to come up with new and fresh designs. The fantastic brands I represent have a major say in what they want to see from the design first and then I add my personal touch after that.”

How often do you change your helmet?

SVG: “I travel with two helmets for every race event, but I like to use the same one and will only swap if I have to. I’ll bring in a new helmet and design usually once a year in time for the big races like Bathurst or New Zealand.”

JDub: “I generally use two helmets a year. They wear out pulling them on and off all the time plus some rubbing on the belts, but mainly due to hygiene from the amount of sweat they see over race meetings.”

What role does a HANS (Head and Neck Support) device play in driver safety?

SVG: “I’ll let JDub answer that one…”

JDub: “The HANS device plays a massive role in driver safety.  It’s another layer of protection for drivers to put on before they get in the car which is sometimes annoying, but worth its weight in gold in a crash.”

Do you have to train/strengthen your neck given the added weight on your head when racing?

SVG: “Not really, I usually do a lot of cardio training. We don’t have to train our necks like you see the Formula 1 driver do.”

JDub: “Supercars don’t have the downforce to warrant any neck training. In saying that, at Adelaide at the start of the season after three months off, by the end of the race the neck is starting to labour a little and super sore the next few days following.”

So, there you have it. Now, back to the lab to answer the next batch of burning questions…

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ACU delivers clinical edge to RBHRT

Queensland-based Australian Catholic University (ACU) students Shannon Chilman and Sam Parker will need to pack earplugs for their next internship – supercharging the Red Bull Holden Racing Team with exercise science muscle.

In a first for the motorsport category, Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology students from ACU’s School of Behavioural and Health Sciences will provide evidence-based health guidance for our team’s high-performance pit crew and drivers.

“This is an incredibly amazing experience,” Shannon said. “The facilities they have here are top notch and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Both Shannon and Sam’s careers were impacted by the coronavirus pandemic restrictions. Shannon was temporarily sidelined from a personal training role, while Sam was affected by redundancies in the high-performance sport industry.

A former competitive Irish dancer from the United States, Shannon saw the internship as a chance to apply her own experience and training.

“I was always getting injured so I’m fascinated by how the body heals and how it can perform,” the budding clinical exercise physiologist said. 

 “I’ve always been around the fitness industry but it’s my mission to get into the clinical side. I want to help people, to get them to connect with their bodies.”

Sam completed her undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Science at ACU and is now on the way to her masters qualification.

“I was always the sporty kid. I wasn’t elite but it was always something I was interested in,” she said. 

“The set-up here at Red Bull Holden is very professional. Everyone exudes high performance and it’s somewhere I could see myself working.”

As part of the research partnership between ACU and Red Bull Holden Racing Team, crew chief Kris ‘Gooey’ Goos and his team have already participated in fitness testing and movement analysis at the Brisbane campus’s Exercise Lifestyle Clinic and in the biomechanics lab. The experienced wheel man believes he now has the sport science oomph to gain an edge over the field.

The lab’s motion capture technology and support from the interns could deliver strategies to make the RBHRT pit crew’s performance safer, faster and more efficient when handling 22kg wheels and 6.5kg rattle guns. “It’s going to be a massive deal for us,” Gooey said. “With the changes in the rules due to COVID-19 restrictions and short turnarounds, we will take a hundredth-of-a-second. We should be able to shave tenths-of-seconds out of this easy, just by having everyone on the right level.”

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Crew in View: Jessica Dane

What is your role at the Red Bull Holden Racing Team?

In a nutshell, it’s anything that doesn’t directly make the cars go faster. While my first role at Triple Eight, back in 2008, was as a mechanic in sub-assembly, these days I’m one part of our little commercial crew where our overarching goal is to keep our amazing family of Team Partners happy and bring the dollars in from various revenue streams for the performance departments to spend.

How long have you been part of the team?

On which side of the world?! I remember going to races in Triple Eight’s British Touring Car Championship days in the 1990s, but my first race under our Aussie guise was Bahrain 2007.

What does a normal working day for you look like at the track, as well as back at the workshop?

To be honest, the variety of each day is why I love it. At the workshop, a normal day could involve everything from coordinating Partner activities to designing race suits. However, my days in the office are currently part-time while I’m completing a law degree. I should note that I’m not about to up sticks for a corporate law firm, it’s purely for fun. But it’s not fun. And track life… it feels like so long since the AGP but if I recall correctly, it mainly involves looking after Team Partners, conducting pit tours, attending appearances with the drivers, running activations and making sure Jamie hasn’t lost another pair of sunnies.

Where does your passion for motorsport and working within Supercars come from?

Despite what people believe, I never had motorsport forced upon me. It’s definitely in my blood, but it’s the collective passion and drive of the teamwork involved in reaching the chequered flag first that got me hooked. Plus, good, hard racing is just one of the best things to watch.

What’s your favourite track on the Supercars calendar and why?

How many am I allowed?! October is the best month of the year because it’s Bathurst into Gold Coast (although not this year… damn you, Covid). And Darwin is high on my list, too. I know it’s not on the Supercars calendar, but can I sneak the Bathurst 12 Hour in there as well? It’s run by Supercars, so I’m saying yes. That is hands down one of my favourite weeks of the year.

What’s your favourite memory in motorsport?

I’ve got two highlights. The first is Bathurst 2008 – being on the wall when we crossed the line for our threepeat was an unbelievably special moment, the gravity of which I don’t think I realised until some time later. The second is of course Newcastle 2017. You don’t have to be a racer or even a sports fan to be utterly blown away by the rollercoaster of that day. If I could bottle and sell that indescribable flood of emotions as the race ended, I would be a millionaire.

What would your advice be for someone interested in a career in Supercars?

You’ve got to have the passion. If it’s just a way for you to pay the bills, you won’t last.

Funniest thing you’ve seen on the road?

I’m going to throw a really cheesy one and say we have so many great laughs altogether that it’s impossible to choose. But that’s a cover up for the fact that so many of my memories have been washed away in a dousing of vodka Red Bull.

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The Role of a Supercars Car Controller

It’s the cool, calm and collected voice that our drivers hear through their radio when cruising down pit lane at a mere 40km/h, but what does the role of a pit stop car controller actually entail?

Fortunately, for the Red Bull Holden Racing Team, that responsibility lies with team manager Mark ‘Dutto’ Dutton, and it’s a role that’s quite foreign to him.  

“I’ve only come in as the full-time car controller for Supercars this year. More recently, I’d been the car controller in the last couple of Bathurst 12 Hour’s we had competed in,” Dutto said.

“As a car controller, your job is to lead the pit crew, tell the pit crew when to roll out, make sure the crew know what’s happening and know which car is coming in and what pit strategy we’ll be executing. Whether that be two tyres, four tyres, what car is coming in, what happens if there’s a safety car, and so on. This can still be changing even after the car or cars have entered pitlane.

“When the driver enters pit lane, you open up the radio channel and tell them what’s happening in broad terms, as the engineers won’t tell the driver on the radio what’s happening because the radio line between driver and engineer is broadcast to everyone.

“The car channels are published, so every team can scan each other. Again, as car controller, you might not want to give too much away as you don’t want to make it too easy for teams you’re racing against to know what your strategy is.”

“Different drivers like to hear different things as well. Shane (van Gisbergen), for instance, likes the least amount of chit-chat in pit lane as possible, so you have to adapt to both drivers.

Directing our cars in and out of the team’s pit bay is also key to the role. While you may assume this is a relatively easy task for our drivers, there are a number of rules that they must adhere to avoid receiving a penalty.  

“A driver can’t just come into the slow lane straight away, you can only do it two pit bays before yours, and then you have to exit into the fast lane within two pit bays after.

“It’s the car controller’s job to talk the car out of the fast lane but more importantly back into the fast lane. Sometimes the driver can see that the pit lane is clear, as well as if it’s congested.

“Being calm and giving clear, good information is very important in the role. In saying that, when it’s time for the drop-and-go, you don’t want to be too calm – you need to have a bit of urgency so the drivers launches faster.”

Being the eyes and ears for our drivers is also a key role for the car controller and having them ready to launch when their stop is complete is important, says Dutto.

“To put it in comparison, making sure drivers are ready to release their car from pit lane is like a sprinter at the starting block of a 100-metre sprint. Sprinters don’t set up at their starting blocks three minutes before they’re ready to launch – they only set up seconds before the starting pistol is fired. It’s the same for a fueling stop.

“If we’re asking the drivers to stop for a 23-second fuel stop, you don’t want the drivers getting ready to launch the whole time, that’s why you tell them it’ll be a long one, or it’s going to be a short one, keep them updated with stop progress and pit lane traffic, then prime them when the stop is nearing completion”

Asking Dutto to sum up the role, he explains that there’s one vital aspect to the job.

“If you break the role down, the most important aspect of the role is the release of the car from our pit bay into the fast lane. Everything else shadows in comparison, because everything else has been covered off in pre-briefs with the drivers.

“You could go out there, say nothing, and the drivers…nine times out of ten, should swing across at the right time, and do everything else right until the release – that’s the only point which makes or breaks the car controller.”

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Sydney: Let there be light!

It’s Saturday night in Western Sydney. You’re on your front porch admiring your VX Commodore sitting in the driveway while sipping on a couple of cold ones…Red Bulls we mean.

Suddenly a glow catches your eye as you finish off that last drop of liquid-y goodness.

“I wonder what that is?” you ask yourself while reaching into the Esky for another refreshment.

“Is the Rooty Hill RSL having a fireworks display?” No, that’s not it.

“Is it the sunrise? Damn, how many drinks have I had?” Again, not quite.

All of a sudden you realise; “Yes, that’s it! Supercars are back under lights at Sydney Motorsport Park!”

Yes, we’re just as excited to see SMP lit up like a Christmas tree once again, and so are our drivers Shane ‘SVG van Gisbergen and Jamie ‘JDub’ Whincup. It was a happy hunting ground for the team since our last appearance under lights, and we’re looking to put on a show once again.

“The last night race for us went pretty well, but the biggest thing for us is that it’s been two weeks since we last raced there. It’s pretty rare that we go back to a track in the same year, let alone the next round,” SVG said.

Although we’ll be retuning to Western Sydney for another round of Supercars action, the tyre strategies will be vastly different. JDub, can you explain the differences to us?

“It’s pretty basic. As soon as we start qualifying onwards, you’ve got two sets of soft tyres and three sets of hard tyres, whereas when we were there a couple of weeks ago, it was five sets of soft tyres. That small change creates a massive change as far as strategy goes.

“So, as you know, they’ve changed up the rules a fair bit. There’s obviously a different tyre strategy, but the biggest change will be racing under lights. I’m looking forward to getting back there, and hopefully the rain stays away so we can have a cracking battle under lights.” JDub said.

“The tyre strategy is going to be crazy,” says SVG.

“We only have five sets: two softs and three hards, and we need six sets if we’re going to put new tyres on every pit stop, so we’re going to have to reuse one of those sets. It’ll be interesting to see what tyre strategies each team uses just to get a result.”

On a serious note, the Red Bull Holden Racing team would like to thank all the Victorian Supercars teams, drivers, personnel, and their families left behind in Victoria for their massive sacrifice to keep our sport alive during these challenging times.

“It’s a pretty amazing commitment by those guys – it surely is appreciated by us. No doubt we’re living in crazy times, and it’s a massive sacrifice by all the Victorian teams to leave their families behind, but everyone loves this sport and we want to keep racing, so it will all be worth it this weekend when we’re on the grid,” SVG said.

“I have massive praise for all the Victorians that have made massive sacrifices in leaving their families to get on the road to keep our sport going. We have massive respect for all of those guys,” said JDub.

On-track action from Sydney Motorsport Park begins Saturday July 18, with drivers battling it out over three races on Saturday and Sunday.