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JJ, Lowndesy and the Sydney 500 game plan

Believe it or not, the championship celebrations are yet to kick off at Red Bull Racing Australia HQ. There is still a highly important task in hand and there is a game plan behind it.

It’s a game plan that makes Inception look like an episode of Sesame Street and deciphering Ludo’s emails a piece of cake. Or should we say gateaux? Anyway, trust us, Frenglish is a complex language.

“The game plan is to get Craig up to second. That’s what the team’s plan is,” says Car 888 Race Engineer Jeromy “JJ” Moore.

Wow, that simple? Well, when you put it like that, we may have got a bit over-excited.  However, don’t think that this isn’t a complex and intricate plot. The brains and brawn behind the cars are doing everything they can to give Lowndesy the best possible opportunity to beat that F-word to second in the championship.

What, we mean that Ford, of course. Minds out of the gutter please, people.

“To do that we really need to score the most points, which is really race wins,” JJ continues. “That’s always the main goal, but also a win will be a good way to finish the season. We haven’t finished as we’d like to, so really the game plan is to get out there, do the best we can and score the most points.”

Thankfully Craig has a pretty good grip of the Sydney Olympic Park street circuit, where the V8s will roar into action next week for the closing event of the 2014 championship, the Sydney 500. The Holden veteran is the only repeat winner over the 10 races held at Homebush with two victories.

“He’s got the runs on the board there and he knows how to drive around there, so we’ve just got to give him the right car,” JJ says. “Hopefully the heavens don’t open up like they did a few years ago and put us out of contention, but I think we’re looking forward to a good weekend where we can do well.”

And with the stats saying that the race winner has come from 10th or worse on the grid in three of the track’s 10 races, it implies that qualifying at the front is not necessarily as crucial there as it is at some other circuits, and JJ sees this as something to take advantage of: “I guess if anything it can hopefully take the pressure off Craig. A few times when the pressure’s on we’ve tripped up, so I think hopefully he can just focus more on the race car.

“The two Saturday races are quite short, so I think we’re still going to have to qualify well to get a good result there, but on Sunday it’s a long race and it’s all just about tyre life, car setup and just getting into a rhythm. So qualifying is not important so much on Sunday, but Saturday it definitely is.

“With less strategy and only one compulsory pit stop in each 125km race on Saturday, it’s hard for us to use strategy and try to get Craig out of traffic if he’s getting stuck behind someone or if he needs to look after his tyres.”

If you cast your mind back a couple of years to the 2012 finale, you may remember JDub moving over in pit lane to let Lowndesy past to give his teammate the points advantage. Will we see that kind of helping hand from the other side of the RBRA garage if it’s necessary now that both the Drivers and Teams Championships are provisionally secured?

“Yeah, absolutely, within the rules that we’re allowed to,” JJ says. “I think when Jamie moved over in pit lane is no longer available to us. That was outlawed by V8 Supercars, so we can’t do that unfortunately, but the main thing is to work together as much as we can, as we always do, to get the cars as fast as possible and I’m sure Jamie won’t hold Craig up if Craig’s faster, especially this weekend. Previous weekends if we’re racing for the championships, it’s always ‘defend your position’, but definitely if Craig is faster, Jamie will let him go and try to get as many points as we can.”

Join us at the Sydney 500, 5-7 December, to see the 2014 season out with a bang and hopefully another 1-2 finish for the Red Bull Holdens.