Red Bull Racing Australia’s rivals are going to have to lifttheir pace if Sunday’s races at the Austin 400 are not be a repeat of the utterdomination displayed by Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes in Saturday’s two 100kmraces.
That’s the warning from team owner Roland Dane after thedynamic duo had finished 1-2 in both races at Circuit of the Americas in theirHolden Commodore VFs and extended the RBRA squad’s winning streak to five.
And Dane was also able to watch on in Race 14 as cars builtby his company, Triple Eight Race Engineering, finished in four of the firstfive spots thanks to Tekno Autosports duo Jonathon Webb and Shane van Gisbergenin fourth and fifth places.
“It is up to people to come to theparty,” declared Dane. “It is meant to be a competition at the end of the dayand it’s a competition from the moment you set out to be a race team and put itall together.
“It is a competition from a budgetpoint of view, getting the right drivers, getting the right engineers, puttingit on track and trying to make sure everyone is doing a good job. That’s whatit is meant to be.”
The performance of RBRA was instark contrast to the other established factory teams, Ford Performance Racingand Holden Racing Team, neither of which claimed a podium in either race. The newNissan factory team could have been the best of the rest of the factory outfitsin Race 14 if Rick Kelly’s Jack Daniel’s Altima hadn’t run out fuel at the lastcorner.
In both races the closest threatto RBRA was privateer Holden driver Fabian Coulthard, whose BJR Lockwood RacingCommodore contains plenty of Triple Eight technology.
“We are not here to play tiddlywinks,” said Dane, “It is meant to be a competition and so that will ebb andflow and we won’t win forever. But when we do our job well then we do often winand when we don’t do our job well other people get in and that’s happened a fewtimes. It’s happened a few times this year. But our strength is in our abilityto recover and that’s what I hope is always there.”
The team’s attention to detail was highlighted in today’smandatory pit stops for two tyres. While most teams used two mechanics per tyreRBRA added a third: “When the mechanics are tired because they have worked hard,it’s way quicker and more reliable. That’s nothing to do with budget or howmany people you have got.
“That opportunity is there for everyone.”
Dane said the team’s domination offly away events not counting New Zealand – Whincup is 18 wins out of 26 starts– emphasised its strengths.
“When we got to new places - and we have seen this before -there is a new set of circumstances and we need to tune from a driver point ofview, from an engineer pint of view, from a team point of view to a newcircuit. That normally plays into our hands.
“This is a very technical track,if you are good technically from a driving point of view and an engineeringpoint of view you are probably going to max it. For others, weaknesses willshow up.”
FPR team principal Tim Edwardssaid the factory Ford operation was looking to fight back in Sunday’s races,acknowledging the Pepsi Max cars were still chasing the set-up sweet spot.
“We are clearly not happy, we arenot on the podium. We just have to dial the car in because we just do not haveit right for this circuit, but we are not about to throw the noose over therafters. If we can find just half-a-tenth per corner for tomorrow then gameon.”
HRT is in its second meetingrunning new front uprights, which are a key suspension component. It also hadother new chassis tweaks for this event.
Garth Tander, who finished fifth inrace 13 and drifted back to 13th in Race 14 said: “We qualified seventh andraced up to fifth (in Race 13), that was probably representative. In the secondrace we qualified 21st which we were obviously disappointed with and racedthrough to 13th.
“We need to qualify stronger and continue toimprove the package.”