After a faultless shakedown on Thursday last week, the Next-Generation Commodore has completed two days of successful aero testing at Stanthorpe Airport.
However, damage to numerous panels on the car caused by stone-chips from the runway has resulted in the first Accredited Manufacturer test day being moved from Thursday this week to after the Gold Coast 600.
Head Designer and Car #88 Race Engineer David Cauchi is leading the development of the Next Generation Commodore and is very pleased with how the car has performed so far.
“The car is in a very good window of where we thought it would be, which is positive, and the changes we were making were matching the downforce numbers that we were predicting, so we feel like we have a good base car and a good bunch of tools to be able to tune the aero balance come the official Supercars aero test.
“There are a lot of people who’ve worked very hard behind the scenes, as well as going racing, so it was extremely rewarding to see the car on track. It’s come together really nicely, so it’s very satisfying, but the job’s not done yet – what really matters is how the car performs on track, which we’ll see in the coming months.”
In preparation for the aero tests, Triple Eight engineers traveled around southern Queensland and northern New South Wales inspecting potential tracks, with Stanthorpe proving to be the most suitable. The team at the airport was extremely accommodating, though the grip of the race tyres meant that the nature of the track surface caused some damage to the car’s exterior.
“The track temp at the airfield was quite hot and that meant that the sticky race tyres that we run on were ripping up some of the gravel on the tarmac of the runway and basically stone-blasted a lot of the panels on the car,” Cauchi explained.
“All the damage is cosmetic, nothing that we can’t repair, but with the tight turnaround it was already going to be a really big push to do this test and prepare properly for Bathurst. With the extra workload of repairing the panels we’ve decided to postpone it until late October.”
With all three Triple Eight drivers occupied with prior engagements, it fell to Super2 driver and Triple Eight mechanic Kurt Kostecki to jump behind the wheel. Having worked on the Next-Gen build for the last eighth months, it was an exciting experience for Kostecki to drive the car that he’s helped to develop.
“The car was really great overall,” he said. “It was such a big push to get it done, everyone chipped in, and to have the car run perfectly in the shakedown and at the aero test was pretty special.
“Unfortunately the track wasn’t ideal and there was a lot of gravel being picked up by the tyres, which caused a bit of damage to a brand new car.
“It isn’t what we wanted, so unfortunately we’re going to have to postpone the test on Thursday to make sure the car’s 100 per cent perfect so we can get out there and maximise our development on the new car when we test next month.”