Last event in Perth was a successful onefor Red Bull Racing Australia. After his first race win on Sunday, JamieWhincup said he felt like he had his “mojo back” – the day after CraigLowndes recorded the most race wins in history and ticked Triple Eight’s winsover to 100.
Team owner Roland Dane said the achievementsin Perth were good from a team perspective, though at the end of the day, theywere just numbers.
“They’re nice numbers, and reinforce ourposition and that our track record over the last eight years is better thananyone else's in the category," Dane told v8supercars.com.au. "It’s always nice to be able to highlight that,from our point of view.”
It was Lowndes who achieved the first everrace and round win for Triple Eight back in 2005 at Eastern Creek, after theteam had been present in the series 18 months.
And while Lowndes was a ‘name’ in ’05 whenhe started with the team, Whincup’s Championship domination has purely been since racing with Triple Eight.
Dane said when he first agreed to termswith Lowndes for the 2005 season and onwards, 'The Kid' was still a fairly youngdriver, a three-time Championship winner – and was clearly frustrated drivingat Ford Performance Racing.
“He was frustrated in that environment andclearly wasn’t enjoying it, from our point of view,” Dane explained.
“We needed a known gun driver and Craig wasthe biggest name in the sport then – and now. So obviously from my point ofview he was the person to go after.
“Luckily for us he wasn’t happy, so thatcreated an opportunity for us.
“The risk was more his than ours at thetime – he was the one taking the risk as we were much less of a knownquantity than he was.
“The risk has paid off for him and for us –he hasn’t won a Championship with us, but has finished second four times, andhe’s won four Bathursts with us.
“I know he’s only won the Championshipthree times and he’d love another, but he holds great (pride) in the Bathurstwins.”
And Whincup? Triple Eight took a risk on ayoung driver who hadn’t recorded a race win – and he became the benchmark in V8 Supercars.
“Jamie was very hungry and keen, and notinterested in money,” Dane said. “Some of his peer group was more interested inwhat they could earn at the time.
“Also, our initial thoughts were to have somebody we could put alongside Craig in the endurance races.
“They showed themselves to be masterstogether in ’06, ’07 and ’08 winning Bathurst three times on the trot and theydominated the endurance race season, so it was a good choice on that part.
“And of course a good choice on Jamie as anindividual as well – he’s proved the be the dominant force in theChampionship since 2008.”
Despite the upturn in results across theChill Perth 360, Dane said the team could not be considered a clear favourite for 2013,though between the two drivers RBRA has recorded five wins of 12 completed Championshipraces (one third of the season).
“We’re certainly in a better position but‘clear favourites’ this year is really not going to happen,” Dane said.
“Because of the competitive nature of thesport now with Car of the Future it was always the plan to help make thecompetition tight. To say ‘clear favourite’ is just not appropriate for us atthe moment and I don’t think it will be throughout the year.
“From our point of view, we feel we have abetter handle of everything now than we have had (earlier) this year.”
Dane believes the reason RBRA was strong atseason opener the Clipsal 500 was merely due to being organised.
“We were better prepared when a lot ofother people were still trying to get to the circuit and get the cars finished,”he said.
“Since then although we’ve had poles andthe race win in New Zealand we were no better than half a dozen other people.Whereas in Perth overall we did a better job as a team than any of the otherteams. That won’t always be the case – but certainly in Perth, we did.”
Given there’s no existing data for the nextevent in Texas and teams will have to work from scratch with just FridayPractice to prepare for the three races, will this give an indication of whomay be strong come Championship time?
“No,” Dane said. “I think it’ll be what itwill be.
“You’ve got to wait as always– frankly, after the endurance races – to see the lay of the land… There’sa lot of water to go under the bridge.
“I don’t think Texas will be any more orless of an indicator.”