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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.

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Milestone Man reflects on Sydney

It was a big weekend in Sydney for Jamie ‘JDub’ Whincup, in more ways than one.

Not only did he notch up his 500th Supercars race on Sunday, but he returns to home base with three trophies from three races – not bad!

Like a kid waking up on Christmas morning, JDub explained his excitement to jump back into his #88 Commodore, battling it out against the 23 other Supercars’ drivers on the real racing grid this time.

“Overall, it was a great weekend. It’s so nice to be back racing again,” JDub said.

“It was an eventful start to the first day when the flywheel broke while warming up the car. It was a mad rush to get the car out for the first practice session, but the crew did a great job to change it and had me back out there in no time like nothing had happened.

“We were really fast early in the day during practice but as the day went on the other cars made some really good gains. We were hoping for a better result in qualifying but fifth was the best we could do.”

It was a tough slog for all drivers over the weekend’s races, with differing tyre strategies a major factor in who crossed the finish line first.

“For Saturday’s race, I got a great start, dropped the clutch and the car launched really well on the new Dunlop rear tyres. I had a really good race with Chaz, he was putting big pressure on me at the start of the race but my car seemed to not wear its tyres as much as others and we were able to gap away to have a little breathing space before the pit stop,” JDub said.

“It was interesting to see the different strategies, with both our cars and the winning car electing to use eight of our 20 tyres, but some cars decided to only use six tyres,” JDub said.

Reflecting on his efforts on Sunday, although satisfied with race pace, JDub believes there were missed opportunities that the team could’ve capitalised on.

“The car was excellent for the first race on Sunday, although I’m a little disappointed that we couldn’t do more, but at the end of the day, any weekend when you can get three podiums, you’re bound to come away happy.

“DC (David Cauchi, race engineer) did a great job this weekend constantly chipping away with the setup and making the car faster every time we hit the track. Our efforts this week back at the workshop will be to try and find a little bit more pace out of the car so we can take it to the guys next door.

“While we missed the crowd and supporters this weekend, which we look forward to having back at the track as soon as we can, I really enjoyed the no-messing-around format which took me back to how we used to go racing,” JDub said.

Bring on Winton.

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Season 2020: Take Two – Action!

Bulls rejoice…we’re back!

Yes, it feels like an eternity since we last started a Supercars race, but a smile has finally returned to our dial as we waved goodbye to our precious cargo, packed snug in our Iveco transporter heading across the border to Western Sydney.

Round three has it all: quick pit stops, short, sharp races and a 500th to top it all off. Does it get any better? Shane ‘SVG’ van Gisbergen doesn’t think so…

“I’m super excited to get back to real racing. It’s been an interesting couple of months for me, but it’s been good to finally see the car over the last few days being at the workshop and I can’t wait to drive it again,” SVG said.

The #97 pilot was kept busy during the forced break, returning to the family farm in New Zealand and claiming the inaugural Supercars All Stars Eseries Championship, which he credits for keeping him active during the downtime.

“My preparation for Sydney has been quite normal; looking at data from previous years, keeping fit and doing what I can to be race ready. It’s going to be different considering the amount of people there, so we’ll need to adjust to only having 11 crew within the garage.

“The Supercars Eseries has also helped with my preparation. It’s allowed drivers to stay race fit, and it was pretty cool to take out the Championship. It was a lot of fun.”

The first race on Sunday at Sydney Motorsport Park will also be Jamie ‘JDub’ Whincup’s 500th Supercars race start, a phenomenal achievement to say the least.

“It’s an awesome achievement for JDub to reach his 500th Supercars race,” SVG noted.

“It’s obviously a huge amount of racing, but I know he doesn’t care about the numbers. It’s hard to get your head around the fact he’s won well over 100 of those races [119 to be exact], which is a pretty good average to have in our sport. Considering he’s still at the top of his game is pretty impressive too.”

So how excited is the milestone man to return to racing?

“I’m like everyone in the industry – super excited to hit the track again this weekend. While the break has had its positives, seeing our high-performance race cars sitting still for so long just hasn’t felt right,” said JDub.

“Sydney was kind to us last time we were there under lights so we will take confidence from that, but we don’t know what other teams have been up to as far as development during the break. Like we are seeing in the footy, the grid could change up a little from when we stopped, but we are confident we can pick up where we left off at the AGP.”

The seven-time champion was humble in reflecting on his milestone and is excited for what the rest of the season holds for the team.

“There is plenty of ways to look at that number, but for me, to have had the opportunity to compete in the highest level of Australian motorsport and most of that with the best team in pit lane, I am very thankful. But as I always say, we’re only getting started.”

The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship resumes with the Sydney SuperSprint on June 27-28. Three 32-lap races will take place with one on Saturday and two on Sunday.