Dane: Tailem Bend raises the game

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 29/08/2018
  • By Mitchell Adam

Triple Eight boss Roland Dane hopes the new Bend Motorsport Park prompts other race tracks in Australia to 'raise their game'.

The result of a $110million project by the Shahin family, the South Australian circuit hosted its first Supercars event last weekend.

Drivers relished the challenge of the 4.95km layout, while teams worked in new, spacious garages that sat below The Bend's own hotel.

Dane, whose drivers Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup split the OTR SuperSprint wins, described Tailem Bend as "world-class".

"It's really good to see the results of the vision and investment by the Shahin family coming to fruition. It sets the benchmark," he told Supercars.com.

"Up until now we've had one world-class facility in Australia at Bathurst and that was really created at its current level sort of 14 years ago [with a pitlane redevelopment].

"It's taken a long time to get a second one. We've finally got another world-class venue, and permanent circuits are the lifeblood of this sport.

"I regard Bathurst as a semi-permanent circuit, but they are the lifeline of not only our category but also the sport as a whole.

"It's been brilliant to see so many people come and support it from the South Australian community."

Queensland Raceway, Triple Eight's test track, was the last permanent circuit to open in Australia, in 1999.

Since then, the domestic additions to the Supercars calendar have been street circuits in Canberra, Townsville, Homebush and Newcastle.

What's now Sydney Motorsport Park underwent major upgrade works earlier this decade, having opened as Eastern Creek in 1990.

"The one that opened 20 years ago or so is hardly something that you're going to go out there and hold your hand up and say it's best job that could've been done," Dane added of Queensland Raceway.

"I don't think it's something many of us are massively proud of.

"It's not a bad circuit but it's not something you want to go and shout from the rooftops about to everyone overseas, whereas this one is.

"It is something we can be proud of. There should be something like this in Western Australia, for sure.

"And honestly, seeing the facilities, the pitlane and the garages, it makes you question 'well, why hasn't Phillip Island got something of this standard?'

"We've got one of the best pieces of tarmac there, in the world, married to - to be honest - a rubbish pitlane that's dangerous, with some very, very, average old pit buildings.

"You'd hope that other people look and say 'the game's been raised here, what are we going to do to raise our game as well?'"

With its Bend victories, Triple Eight became the most-successful team in Supercars.

One of Dane's former lieutenants, Adrian Burgess added his tick of approval for Tailem Bend.

"It's fantastic to see someone put this level of investment into anywhere in Australia, I take my hat off, they've done a fantastic job," the Tekno Autosports chief said.

"I love it, it's like a European circuit. It was a very technical weekend for all the teams, everyone was scratching their heads."

Brad Jones agreed the precinct had become an "amazing facility".

"I came out here when it was dirt and it’s mind-blowing the work they’ve put in," the BJR boss said.

"It’s great to have another circuit in the country."

Dirt kicked up onto the track surface was a talking point throughout the weekend, especially when cars dropped off in ARMOR ALL Qualifying.

Sunday victor and an ambassador for the project, Whincup believes "an unbelievable racetrack" will come into its own.

"Cracker racetrack, a really, really good racetrack," he said. "Nice flow, good to drive.

"It just needs time to mature. The dust issue is just because it's brand-new. Anyone that's done any [building] development knows that dust is the biggest drama.

"They've had some rain here, but we'll come back next year and I'm pretty sure the whole dust thing won't even be an issue, it'll all settle down."

Traffic management also came under scrutiny following lengthy delays for those leaving the circuit on Saturday and Sunday - an issue organisers have vowed to address for 2019.

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