Grand Prix style tyre changes to revolutionise pitstops
Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
By PAUL GOVER, chief reporter, Carsguide
A six-man crew made lightning-quick changes for Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowdnes as they dominated in Austin and the work by Red Bull Racing is likely to be mirrored up and down the pitlane in double-quick time.
The new move shaved around a second off the times usually achieved for two-tyre stops and provided an instant payoff for the team at the top of the pecking order.
Adrian Burgess, now the team principal at RBRA but a former McLaren man in Formula One, says there was a clear opportunity to make the change and copy the successful work done in F1 and the DTM series in Germany.
"It's obvious to see that they have operated that way for a long time, it's just that we have never had enough people available to run that set-up until this year's rules," Burgess says.
"I've had it at the back of my mind for a long time, but as we came closer to the last event it was clear that RD (Roland Dane) and myself saw that we could make some time up if we had the guys up to speed."
He says it was surprisingly easy to make the change, introducing the 'quick six' using existing crew members who normally work as mechanics and on the tyre crew.
"We researched as much DTM pitstop footage as we could post-Perth, discussed it in the Perth post-race debrief and then set about showing the guys what we were trying to achieve and then found a way that it could work with the components that we have.
"It's the same guys as normal. Kris, Jason, Shady, Matt, Lockie and Hado are on the wheels with Adam on the spike and Andrew as car controller."
The new system uses one crew member on the air gun, with one on either side to remove the old wheel and fit the new one.
The change also involved a fitness specialist to ensure the crew were working efficiently.
"We have Chris Brady help us look at how the pit crew do each task and what that requires from their bodies. He will then suggest other techniques should we need it, exercise that can be done in the gym between races, and then stretches to help them loosen up each morning," says Burgess.
The Red Bull crew worked in secrecy in Austin to refine the 'quick six' work and ensure there would be no glitches during the races.
"We practised on Thursday night and Friday night behind closed doors, with our normal morning practice on Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
Burgess is reluctant to give details of the system or how much it saves, but admits there is a time gain.
"It's very hard to give any accurate numbers, but somewhere around 6-7 tenths.
"It helped this weekend. On Saturday we were quickest on the track, but also had the quickest crew in the pitlane. Which is very satisfying."
Burgess says he is expecting copycat crews to be up and running at the next round of the series.
"I think some already tried during Sunday in Austin."
Most importantly, does he believe the 'quick six' could provide a race-winning advantage for RBRA.
"Yes," he says simply.
And what about other innovations through 2013 as the Red Bulls look for other unfair advantages?