Like the final term of school is to Christmas, September is a punish for V8 Supercars fans as we count down the days to Bathurst. There’s no news, no racing and worst of all, there’s nothing to watch on TV if your footy team isn’t playing finals.
And we don’t know about you, but we here at Red Bull Racing Australia don’t take too kindly to “down time”.
We want it all – the dizzying heights, the devastating lows and the creamy middles. But like you, in the meantime we’re left with no option but to watch highlights and dream “what if?”
So we located our dialling wand and dialled 1300 BIG DOG to get the one and only, team owner and team principal, RD on the phone.
Here’s what went down…
RBRA: RD, looking back at Sandown, is it fair to say your preparation for Bathurst couldn’t have gone any better?
RD: I don’t know about that. We were just the team that made fewer mistakes than the others. We can’t say we did a perfect job because we didn’t. We just did a less imperfect job than everyone else. But yes, it was a very satisfying result.
RBRA: For most Red Bull fans, the likelihood of J-Dub and Lowndesy finishing inside the top-10 let alone first and second looked all but lost. Were you surprised at how events unfolded?
RD: The Craig stacking early on, that was never going to have an effect on his result over such a long race and with safety cars and what nots. We knew that was a possibility with how close the two qualified and we covered that risk off at the time as best we could. I knew that in itself wouldn’t affect the outcome of the race. That’s the nature of the business sometimes. And with Jamie’s penalty, the bottom line is that we made some mistakes over the race on and off track but we made fewer than other people. But whether Jamie could get back after the drive-through? I was confident he could get a good place but did I think he could win from there? No. And there were no safety cars to help him. So to drive from 25th to first as he did was an exceptional effort. We had inherent car speed all weekend.
RBRA: With all the different strategies and mistakes and safety cars being played out, even the commentators were confused as stages as to who was where and who had the advantage. Does that ever happen in the garage?
RD: Not really. We have all the data and diagrams that tell us who the effective race leader is and from half way onwards, we had a very clear picture of how things would likely pan out. The Car No.4 thing actually crept up on us a bit because the best-performing Mercedes was the No.47 in many ways and then they got stuck with a pit-stop issue when no fuel went in. For me, they were dead-set on for a podium, but it was taken away from them by mistakes. I was very pleased for the individuals concerned with the No.4 car – Lee Holdsworth is Brisbane-based now so that makes him alright in our books. We don’t have rubbish living in Brisbane. Haha.
RBRA: How do you expect the Erebus cars to do at Bathurst?
RD: I expect them to do well. I’d be amazed if they weren’t strong there. And frankly speaking, I think they would have been working towards Bathurst all year. In this business, traditionally, if you know that you’ve got issues in the early part of the year you just focus on Bathurst. You have a good Bathurst and you can put up with all the other crap that happens throughout the year – like if you’re a Broncos fan and Queensland wins State of Origin.
RBRA: So we’ve had the fuel blend experiment in Winton and now the extra compulsory pit-stops at Sandown, which method do you think is the most plausible for ongoing parity in the short-term?
RD: I think the blend issue is complicated and for me, the rules have to be the same for everyone. And if we have to have a rule which is not entirely necessary for Holden and Ford but makes a difference to Nissan and Mercedes and is the same for everyone, then I don’t have an issue with it. What I want to see is the same set of sporting rules for everyone. However, what everyone has forgotten is that fuel economy between teams has always varied hugely even when on the surface all teams have run exactly the same equipment. In the past, we’ve gone to Bathurst with precisely the same engine as Stone Brothers and we’ve had completely different fuel consumptions. So it has happened in the past.
RBRA: OK, you’ve mentioned the B word – Bathurst – way too much not to delve deeper into your plans. What are your thoughts ahead of the big race?
RD: There’s a huge amount of work to do before Bathurst. We’ve got a big test on Thursday and plenty going on with that – componentry and set-up and gear ratios and what not. We’ve had several debriefs since Sandown and we’re planning on going to Bathurst with two evenly matched cars prepared as best as the possibly could be.
RBRA: And lastly, Casey Stoner returns to the track at Bathurst. He had some experience there earlier this year in a production car. How do you think he’ll go?
RD: I quite enjoy watching the development series at Bathurst. The racing is always very close and Casey has a good car, so hopefully we can enjoy just as much this year.