You’ve had the review, now it’s time for proper juicy stuff – and we’re not talking about what Cauchi got up to in the off-season. Nope, we’re more interested in what Dutto’s got to say about the upcoming year in V8 Supercars Land and what’s in store for Red Bull Racing Australia. Sorry, DC!
RB: Since RBRA hit the scene in 2013, the team has ticked a fair few boxes, so what are you aiming for in 2015?
MD: We’re hoping to tick a few boxes that we haven’t yet as Red Bull Racing Australia. The big one, which is no secret, is that since becoming RBRA we haven’t won Bathurst, so that’s very high on the priority list. Although it’s a focus every year and we try to win it every year, for the last two years we had the cars and the drivers and the opportunities to win it, and for various reasons we didn’t.
We’re looking for a bit more consistency and really developing those dud rounds that have now plagued us for two years in a row. As a team, it hurts bad enough to make mistakes once, but to make mistakes twice – even if it’s different mistakes – doesn’t sit well with us, so they’re going to be big focuses. We’ll work on that, as well as just making sure both cars hit the ground running. Craig had an excellent start to the season, but then lulled in the middle and towards the end it was catch up and that’s a bit hard, whereas Jamie came on strong at the end, so we do want a more consistent year.
RB: That’s enough about you guys for a moment – let’s talk competition. Who’s going to be the good, the bad and the ugly in pit lane this year?
MD: As we saw, HRT were coming on strong last year – they improved and should keep improving. HRT should be good, then there’s Tekno. They finished second in the championship, they’re a great team with a great driver and we have a technical partnership with them, so it’s going to be harder and harder to stay in front of them. Volvo showed that they’ve got speed, they proved that in qualifying last year, but they couldn’t consistently turn those pole positions into race wins, so Volvo could be a lot stronger this year. Penske come with a lot of pedigree from overseas in America, so they could be right up there. Saying that, Ambrose hasn’t been racing these cars for a while, but he is a quality steerer so there’s no reason why he can’t get back in the swing of things. FPR weren’t as strong last year. They were up there, but they definitely weren’t in the fight like they have been in previous years. Will they bounce back and have a stronger year this year? It’s definitely hard to know, but they know how to win and they know how to bring the fight, so you can’t rule anyone out. Everyone’s a chance, but those few that we’ve highlighted will definitely be up there.
RB: Back to RBRA, there were a lot of changes within the team last year. Will we see more movers and shakers in 2015?
MD: The big change is the one that most people know about, which is Jeromy Moore, Craig’s Race Engineer, is going for a stint overseas. We’re still deciding the exact structure of who’s replacing him, but either way Craig’s getting a new Race Engineer, so that is a massive deal. Jeromy, not only as a Race Engineer, but designing over the years and as Chief Designer, has played a massive part in the team’s growth and success, so there will be a void that we need to fill. I’m hoping it’ll be a credit to him and the rest of the team how well we’ve all worked in unison and shared the knowledge so that the void isn’t nearly as big as it could be because we don’t keep secrets here. Within the team, it’s open book – we work together, we collaborate, so therefore our roles and knowledge base overlap enough that it should be much easier to transition. Soon we’ll tell you who’s replacing who and we’ll announce that, but at this stage we’re just waiting to make a few plans and we’ll let everyone know.
RB: And what about the cars, are there many changes there?
MD: We’ve been doing some aero tests with V8 Supercars, so there might be some changes there. Apart from that, we’re just giving the cars all a little bit of a birthday. Craig’s going back to his old chassis. Apart from for superstitious reasons, because he didn’t have much success once changing chassis, though we don’t believe in ghosts, it did get bashed around a little bit at Homebush and Bathurst, so that car is currently being put back to pristine condition. The car that he was racing since the beginning of 2013, there wasn’t ever anything wrong with it, so we’re pulling that one out because it’s in A1 condition ready to go, so we can spend more time giving it a really good birthday. We’ve decided to go down that route and Craig’s more than happy with it because he has had success in that previous chassis. Car 1 is staying with the same chassis. It’s a proven winner, it just needs a birthday as well, which is happening.
RB: What will you be bringing to 2015 that you and the team learnt in 2014?
MD: We’ve learnt a lot and there’s always more to learn. This game is all about understanding, so we’ve seen some of our weaknesses and some of our strengths, and we know where to focus on this year to improve. With the success that we’ve had you can’t be too harsh on the team because it is a proven world class team, but we’re really looking forward to just improving some communication, things, just to run smoother and more efficient because more efficient means fewer hours work, fewer hours work means happier employees, means we can hopefully do a bit more fun stuff. Our job inherently is fun because we get to go racing cars and doing cool stuff like that, but at the same time, it’s good for the girls and guys within the team to have a little bit more fun outside of it. We haven’t had a go karting day for a while, so we’ve got to do some cool stuff.
RB: Let’s face it, we know 2015 is going to be a big year, but what are you most look forward to for the team and yourself?
MD: Myself personally, I’m looking forward to the second year in the Race Team Manager Role. Although as a team we were successful, I’m my own biggest critic, so I’m looking forward to doing a better job by my own standards. As a team, as we said when you make mistakes twice, that’s two times too many. Once, we struggle to accept. Two, we just can’t accept, so for some of those rounds that have plagued us for two years in a row now, they’re something I’m really looking forward to, to clear them off the books. And of course trying to set more records and getting that Bathurst trophy back.