If someone had told me at the beginning of the season that there would be 11 different race winners in 2016 and each manufacturer would have at least one victory, I’d have never believed that Red Bull Racing Australia would secure first and second in the championship with a round in hand.
To have achieved what we have in the first year of running three cars has been nothing short of phenomenal and I’m enormously proud of the entire team.
The RBRA garage adjusted seamlessly to the changes. The three-car model actually has some advantages, as well as disadvantages, and the team maximised the access to data and personnel from the TeamVortex car very well. There was no real extra pressure on the guys.
To see Shane fit in so quickly was very pleasing. He spent plenty of time at the factory early in the year to establish a rapport with the team. The biggest change for him was going from a single-car, small operation with ten people to something five times bigger. He took full advantage of the opportunity… as the results show.
Winning the championship in his debut year with the team was something we knew he was capable of, but didn’t set any expectations of doing so. Now he has, I can only think of it as being good for him and it will improve him as a driver in and out of the car.
By the same token, Jamie rose to the occasion and raised his game in any case in 2016 from a patchy 2015. He’s always worked well with Craig and he continued to do the same with SVG to their mutual benefit.
The media tried hard to drum up a Formula 1-style rivalry, but the truth is that the drivers respect each other too much to ever enter into anything of the sort. They also know Triple Eight plain and simply wouldn’t tolerate it!
Apart from winning both the Drivers and Teams Championships, my highlight from the year would have to be the Gold Coast 600. To take home both wins, one for each car, and have great speed was fantastic. And to do it on home turf made the whole thing all the more satisfying.
On the flipside, the round prior would probably be my personal lowlight. Although Shane and Alex walked away with a fantastic result, it was pretty heartbreaking to come so close to winning with both cars. If I could rewind the clock, I’d take us back to Winton and do a better job there as well.
It’s a difficult year to top, but we’ve always got to set ourselves goals. Next year, nailing Winton is one of those goals! But otherwise, it’s the usual – win Bathurst, and both the Teams and Drivers Championships. I’ve always said I don’t care which car wins what, as long as it’s a Triple Eight car, and that mentality will never change.
To all of you who’ve supported Red Bull Racing Australia and the whole Triple Eight family through another year, thank you, enjoy the festive season and see you next year.