We’re less than two weeks away from J-Dub and Lowndesy launching their assault on Sandown in the first of the three enduros but first, the Red Bull Racing Australia pair must overcome a brutal day of testing at Queensland Raceway.
In the wake of a horror weekend at Winton it’s safe to say that the Bid Dog, RD, isn’t exactly slapping blokes on the back at the Red Bull workshop. We’re only days away from celebrating Triple Eight’s 10th anniversary in V8 Supercars and the boss wants to commemorate it with a win.
As such, it’s all and sundry up bright and early today to put the final touches on endurance set-up and test out some new componentry.
Luffy will be there. PD, too.
So we caught up with RD and his oft-stroked hairless cat to get the low down on Lowndesy and J-Dub hopefully returning to the winners’ circle – the No.888 driver is the reigning Sandown champion after all…
RBRA: RD, anything specific in mind for the test?
RD: We’ve got plenty to do today. Pre-enduro testing you’ve always got plenty to do on top of a normal test. You’ve got to make sure the car is set-up for driver changes, making sure set-up for a different style of pit-stop is complete. There are possible brake changes to practice and all those little tweaks you do for enduros. We’ve also got some set-up stuff that we’ve wanted to work on, so we’ve got a very full day for everyone – including you.
RBRA: Are you talking to Mr Bigglesworth? What are the different issues encountered come endurance season and with an all-new car no less?
RD: Well, there’s the kilometres travelled. At Adelaide we did 250km each race there but we haven’t done that kind of consecutive distance since. We’ve put plenty of Ks on the components and are starting to get a feel but obviously back-to-back in terms on continual kilometres for the enduros it is a different scenario. Then you have Bathurst, which is very different to every circuit we go to. The gearing is different, top speed is greater and those things can have an effect on some aspects of the car. We’ll be a lot happier as a category when we’ve all got the first one under our belts in Sandown. But the big-ticket items, touch wood, such as gearboxes and engines we’re pretty confident. The tyre is pretty new and there’s plenty to watch out for there but Dunlop is giving plenty of support.
RBRA: Both Sandown and Bathurst will be run on the hard tyre and there have been some concerns flagged in recent races that the cars have lacked grip on one particular tyre or another…
RD: I’m not sure it’s to do with the tyre, frankly. In Perth we performed very well on the soft tyre and we’ve won races on the hard tyre, too. So when we haven’t won it hasn’t been because of that.
RBRA: And the tail shaft dramas that plagues J-Dub’s weekend at Winton?
RD: There was a manufacturing fault in that particular one. Other ones have done many more Ks than that particular one had done and we found the issue and have taken steps to ensure we don’t have it again. We’ve got some new bits and pieces on the car – some aimed towards reliability and some towards speed. But in enduros if you want to finish first, you have to finish. So we’ll be concentrating on making sure we’re reliable and the drivers are comfortable.
RBRA: What do you make of Sandown as a track?
RD: It’s a hard track with big curbs and some big braking on it. It’s the traditional home of the 500 and as such it has its own peculiarities. The lap times are relatively short so you have to watch them the whole time to make sure you don’t go a lap down if you’re pitted. Although the top speed isn’t as much as Bathurst it certainly has its fair share of kerbs and hard braking. There are plenty of challenges there.
RBRA: This time of the year every fan’s excitement level goes up to 11 on the approach to Bathurst. Is it any different as a team owner?
RD: Not at all. Like a fan or a driver or no matter what position you’re in in motorsport, the enduro time of year in our category is an exciting time. It’s definitely something I look forward to as much as anyone.
RBRA: Was that a smile? Lastly, what of the 10th anniversary next week – four championships and five Bathurst 1000 titles are hardly something to be sneezed at looking back…
RD: We’ve got a few things going on. We’ve got a team dinner this week and something else planned in Melbourne next week. It’s something we think about but we don’t let it get in the way of what we’re here to do and that’s win races.