The Triple Eight Holden Commodores of provisional pole-sitter Jamie Whincup and defending Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 winner Craig Lowndes have both had engine changes.
The #88 Red Bull Holden’s 5.0-litre Chevrolet V8 was swapped out overnight as a precaution when foreign materials were found in the oil filter, but Lowndes’ change today was driven by the team’s ongoing search for pace in the TeamVortex Commodore.
“We haven’t come to Bathurst with a plan to change engines for years, but we changed an engine on Jamie’s car last night because we found some crap in a filter, which was an anomaly,” explained Triple Eight boss Roland Dane. “So to be cautious we changed that.”
Whincup, who is sharing his car with Paul Dumbrell, will be the last car off in this evening’s ARMOR ALL Top 10 Shootout.
Lowndes, who is sharing his Holden with Steven Richards, qualified only 21st yesterday, his worst ever starting position for the Great Race.
“With Craig’s car we changed engines because we are not 100 per cent sure it is not losing a little bit of the top end,” explained Dane.
“Personally I suspect it will be no difference.”
The #888 is not the only T8 Commodore with pace issues this week, as the Tekno Autosports entry of Will Davison and Jonathon Webb qualified only 17th and the customer car of Team 18’s Lee Holdsworth and Karl Reindler is 15th.
Team 18 has overhauled the Preston Hire Commodore from stem to stern in pursuit of more straight-line speed, changing an engine, transaxle and other ancillaries such as driveshafts, but without resolving the issue.
The Tekno entry also continues to struggle, with more set-up changes planned for the Sunday morning warm-up.
Dane questioned whether drivetrain changes would help solve the issues the cars have suffered.
“The reality is you have to come out of the corners the right way and that affects the straight-line,” said Dane.
“I can’t talk about the Tekno and Team 18 cars because I don’t know, but I can tell you this (#888) car has not been optimised.
“In practice this morning it looked as though it had been, because on old tyres and full tanks it looked good.”