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Tasmania: Race Preview

Every year around this time our minds start to wander to two things – Red Tulip chocolate and Easter. But while some remember one resurrection, Red Bull Racing Australia is hoping for another entirely – a return to the winner’s circle.

Lowndesy and Whincup may lead the championship heading into Tasmania, but with only one race win between them from six starts there’s some work to do ahead of Symmons Plains.

Of course, four of the six were non-championships races at the Australian Grand Prix. But in the words of the great Ricky Bobby: “If you’re not first, you’re last”.

Okay, it’s not quite that dire but winners hate to lose – be it a race or coin-toss.

This time last year the team was in almost the same position only for Whincup to pull out a race win on the Sunday in Tasmania. But team principal Adrian Burgess is under no illusions as to how different Symmons Plains circa 2013 will be.

“Hopefully history can repeat itself – minus Craig’s DNF of course,” he said.

“Last year we didn’t start off too strong. But like this time last year, at the moment, we know we’re not operating at anywhere near our maximum or to the potential of the car, so we’re confident we’ve got a lot of improvement to deliver. We’ve just got to knuckle down internally.

“The drivers have to give us good feedback and the engineers have got to step up and do a better job that we know we are all capable of doing.

“We’re not sitting here panicking, we’re looking at the task in front of us and quite happily we’re ready to take that on.”

The all-new Red Bull Racing Australia VF Commodores will benefit from another solid day’s testing a fortnight ago but in 2013, it’s not just FPR that Lowndes and Whincup have to overcome for race wins. Triple Eight customer Shane Van Gisbergen already has one race win to his name while the Brad Jones Racing pairing of Fabian Coulthard and Jason Bright staked their claim for favouritism at the Grand Prix. Throw in youngster Scott McLaughlin and the quickly-improving Nissans and the 2013 championship battle is hotter than Lee Holdsworth’s brake foot.

“It’s exciting to have guys like Shane Van Gisbergen, Scotty McLaughlin and even young Scotty Pye having a real good go and getting results,” ATB said.

“All of it has mixed the order up a little bit. The Car of the Future wasn’t designed to mix it up – it was designed to bring the other teams closer to the front and it’s done that.

“While our main priority is to win, it’s good that there are other people up towards the front. The Nissans, they had a really good weekend at the GP and are threatening. The Mercs are struggling a little bit but that won’t last for long. They’ll hit their straps eventually.

“Brad Jones Racing have done a great job. All their drivers and engineers should be very proud of how they’ve started the year. Their job will be to stay there and our job will be to knock them off. That’s racing.”

From an engineering sense, the success of rival teams is good business, with every car on the grid using Triple Eight components in some respect. But from a racing standpoint, ATB says Red Bull Racing Australia is priority No.1.

“It’s good to see our customers and people using our equipment enjoying the experience of buying things from Triple Eight Race Engineering, so that’s a positive for us as a business,” he said.

“But for us at Red Bull Racing Australia, we just need to do a better job with our cars and we’ll hopefully start to deliver better results in the coming races.

“Our job is still to go out there and try to win every weekend. So that’s what we’ll be aiming to do.”