Komatsu Apprentice Mentor, six-time V8 Supercars champion and 2016 Supercars Championship leader Jamie Whincup has led a team of Brisbane-based apprentices to victory in a back-to-basics race challenge.
Seven apprentices from the mining and construction equipment manufacturer’s Brisbane development hub at Wacol assembled at the Mount Cotton Hill Climb race track on 12 August for the second round of the Komatsu Apprentice Kart Challenge.
Racing wheel-to-wheel on the steeply graded track, Team Komatsu Apprentices clutched victory from the Red Bull Racing team, with the yellow Komatsu Kart driven by Brisbane-based third-year apprentice Jared Venema beating first-year apprentice Christopher Sommer in the Red Bull billy kart by centimetres.
Teams faced off in the stark absence of the high-performance technology and engineering that define Komatsu and Red Bull Racing products.
Much like the Supercars Championship, kart design and specification is tightly controlled. Teams are able to tune caster, camber, tyre inflation pressures and ride height to achieve a balance of speed and control in the conditions.
Stripping racing back to its bare essentials, apprentices worked together to overcome engineering challenges and learn from the driver and team that know what it takes to win.
In his third year as Komatsu Apprentice Mentor, Jamie Whincup said the challenge was an important part of helping apprentices grow and work together.
“It’s racing at its most honest,” Whincup said. “There are no high-tech bits to help you. We work as a team to dial the karts in and work together to understand the cause and effect of tuning different elements. We run them, tune them and run them again.
“It’s a great opportunity to take my mentoring into the real world to connect the theory to results, and have a bit of fun doing it – especially when we show up the Red Bull billy kart!” he said.
Komatsu national apprentice development manager Gavin Manning said the kart race, part of Komatsu’s apprentice development system (ADS) produces better tradespeople on and off the job.
“Komatsu is people-powered,” Mr Manning said. “Supporting and standing behind every piece of our machinery, equipment and technology is a member of the Komatsu team.
“The Apprentice Kart Challenge is great fun and it’s connected to real learning outcomes. Equipment is only part of what we deliver to our customers. Creating satisfied, self-aware tradespeople puts us in the best possible position to service evolving customer needs.
“Jamie has done a great job with all the apprentices he has worked with, and they are all better for the experience,” he said.
Whincup and the Komatsu Apprentice Kart Challenge series will now travel to Sydney and Melbourne and involve local Komatsu apprentices in each state.