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The Mystery of Car 97

It’s a mystery that the best of them would struggle to solve – Poirot, Holmes and even the Scooby Gang would be baffled.

What is wrong with car 97?

Over the Darwin Triple Crown weekend, a problem was plaguing Shane van Gisbergen’s Red Bull Holden Racing Team Commodore, the reigning champ referring to it as “horrendous”.

“The car just doesn’t feel normal, something has been broken all day, so we’ve got to find out what it is,” he said after Friday’s practice sessions last week.

“We’re not sure what it is, otherwise we would have fixed it. We were still okay, it just doesn’t feel like our normal car. Something is quite bad. We’re still quick, but it just feels horrendous, so hopefully we can fix it.”

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Unfortunately that fix was not found and the problems were likely only exacerbated after SVG’s contact in Saturday’s race that broke the steering and gave him his first DNF of the season.

You’d think that Race Engineer, Grant “Shippy” McPherson, would be the man to blow all the question marks off this mystery. However, even he remains perplexed.

“We battled with locking front brakes all weekend,” he said on return to HQ. “Normally this never occurs with our setups, so it really hampered our performance.

“We focussed all of our energy into curing the locking, because we knew if it was fixed then our competitiveness would come straight back.”

Despite a late Friday night searching for the cause and an even later night on Saturday fixing the damage sustained in the crash, Shane continued to experience the same issue. Thankfully though, outright pace wasn’t affected.

“Friday we changed a lot of components trying to cure our issue, to limited success,” Shippy continued. “And Saturday was even later given that we sustained damaged down both sides of the car.

“Obviously no-one ever wants to DNF, so it was a pretty frustrating way to finish the day. The tyre problem was devastating, and the crash really kicked the 97 crew when we were down.”

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After Sunday’s race, Shane commented: “The guys did a lot of work overnight to fix the car. It was mechanically sound, but still we have some issues there that we have been chasing all weekend. The car was still fast, but again, horrible to drive, so to salvage a third was great.”

Now back at the factory, the #97 Holden is being checked over as thoroughly as a heart transplant patient. The mystery remains, but rest assured the investigating continues. The Famous Five ain’t got nothing on us.

“We will put 100 percent into fixing the locking issue on 97 and come back to Townsville with everything we’ve got,” finished Shippy. “We have a little points deficit now, so we’ve got to get back to pushing for poles and wins.”