He’s often perceived as elusive, terse and intimidating – and that’s just by his close friends. Try asking RD 15 similar questions in a row and then you really receive the ire of V8 Supercars’ most successful team owner and principal in recent history. Jokes. Truth be told, while he can become somewhat irritated by our constant requests for interviews, lifts, small change and general life advice, RD is a man short of nothing if not time to do it all.
So when the Triple Eight oracle found 15 minutes to sit down and discuss next week’s championship showdown, we shut up and listened. If you do the same, you just might learn a few things… And by “shut up” we mean, shut up shop, put up the “back in 10mins” sign and enjoy some light reading from one of V8’s heavy hitters.
RBRA: You’ve got two cars in the championship race with one round remaining. Outside of the nerves, you must be pretty satisfied…
RD: Our position in the championship is meaningless until we have an outcome at Homebush, so whether we’re first and second or wherever, it’s good to be in at this stage, but nobody cares about that after Sunday night.
RBRA: It’s not the first time you’ve found yourself having both kids going for the lead in the school play, for lack of a better analogy at this very moment… What issues arise within the team when you have both cars in the championship fight?
RD: The issues we face are trying to keep everyone’s ambitions and expectations in check and make sure that they’re working for the team as a whole whilst also hopefully being allowed to race and get on with competing against each other. I don’t know really how we handle the inter-car rivalry, we just wing it! (laughs)
RBRA: OK, so how do we say this without using the ugly “TO” phrase…. Hmmm. Got it! How do you deal with the respective drivers and engineers this next week – is it business as usual or each to their own?
RD: The only instruction is going to be to do our absolute best to make sure that one of us wins and not the opposition. As I’ve always said, there are no “team orders” here and we’ll just let it play out on the day as long as we stay ahead of those trying to make sure that doesn’t happen.
RBRA: The Teams Championship at least looks all but wrapped up. Is it any more satisfying this year given the new challenge of the Car of the Future?
RBRA: Gulp. (loosens collar). Dumb question, dumb question…
RD: No, this year isn’t more significant than others because we should always be in it. Triple Eight should always be in the championship fight. We have been every year since 2005 – it’s our job. Anyway, the championship isn’t done until it’s done. I’d be very disappointed if we didn’t win the teams’ championship and it’s extremely satisfying to me and everyone else at Triple Eight and it’s very important to us, because of exactly what it is – it’s a teams’ championship. It includes every single member of the organisation so if we win it again every single person here knows they were a part of that victory.
RD: … (Crickets)
RBRA: Now, just casting the eye back over the season and the stewards have copped some flack for little action in high-stakes matters across the board. Your thoughts?
RD: I’m not going to comment on stewards at the moment. What if, what if, what if? It’s meaningless. We just get on with what we always do, but obviously we’re preparing as best we can for Homebush anyway. Regardless of whether it’s one or two drivers who are trying to win the championship, we put maximum effort into what’s always a very difficult event.
RBRA: What fears do you hold of Sydney in ten day’s time? It hasn’t always been a happy hunting ground for Triple Eight…
RD: We’ve won races at Homebush and I think Craig’s the most successful driver there. It’s a tough track, but so is the Gold Coast, so is Townsville, so is Adelaide. Those are tough tracks and we just get on with doing the best we can on the day. The fact that Jamie hasn’t had the best run of results there will probably make him even more determined to do well.
RBRA: We’ve got the two Red Bull Triple Eight cars battling it our for the driver championship but there are other Triple Eight cars in the field that have been scoring podiums, too. That must be satisfying…
RD: It is. At Phillip Island Shane Van Gis was pretty competitive all weekend, which was good. I think even more outstanding was Scotty’s [Pye] performance in the LDM car. He was top 15 all weekend and had his best ever qualy on Sunday. Unfortunately, he couldn’t take advantage of it because of a mechanical issue on the car, but it was very satisfying to see that. Shane’s done a very good job throughout the year. I think the other customers or other drivers probably would have wanted to do better than they did, but certainly Shane has shown what can be done with a good customer car.
RBRA: And your thoughts on the Car of the Future’s success in general this season?
RD: The Car of the Future has pretty much delivered everything we expected it to. It’s been pretty good, it’s shaken up the order and we’ve had lots of winners and different people on podiums. It’s always difficult to know exactly how effective the safety elements of the car have been precisely, but for sure the improvements didn’t do us any harm at Phillip Island with Courtney’s car so every time you improve the car safety-wise it’s a positive.
RBRA: And the newcomers, Nissan and Mercedes? Can they, and Volvo, be more competitive next year?
RD: Yeah. I believe Nissan and Mercedes will be more competitive next season. I think Nissan had two cars in the top 10 at Phillip Island in the final race. I think they’re definitely going to take a step up next year. I think Volvo next year will be as Nissan and Mercedes have done this year, they’ll be learning something about it next year, about the championship, etc. and what’s needed. But it’s a good team. There are some good people there and Richard Hollway’s [GRM engineer car 33] no mug, he knows what’s needed and I don’t think they’ll be too far away.
RBRA: Spare change? Life advice?
RD: (Knocks chair over and exits the room swiftly)