Roland Dane has revealed a restructure behind the scenes to best prepare for the Gen2 era in 2018 and ensure his Triple Eight team is in the position to back up the Supercars Championship title this year.
Yesterday the team unveiled its new-look Commodore at Holden headquarters in Melbourne, ahead of its first race as the Red Bull Holden Racing Team.
But back at the workshop in Brisbane the team continues to gear up not just for this year’s racing, with the huge project of creating a new Commodore, with new engine, to move forward into the next era of Supercars.
“We’re working hard – in due course you’ll see the results, but we are working very hard and have been for many months,” Dane told supercars.com when asked of the team’s progress on its Gen2 project.
Last year long-time Triple Eight technical director Ludo Lacroix made a shock defection to rival squad DJR Team Penske after many years at Triple Eight – and Dane explained why he hasn't chosen to have a figure at the top as he had with Lacroix, moving forward.
“Ludo Lacroix, I haven’t sought to replace him directly – I think that’s probably impossible to do,” Dane said.
“I’ve structured the department differently now, frankly, and we’ve gone away from a ‘superstar’ type technical boss role to a flatter one with more people given more responsibility.
“The ultimate say in the team these days is with Mark Dutton – he’s the closest we’ll get in Supercars, I believe, to a Ross Brawn-type person in that great leader of people, organiser, but also an engineer.
“Mark’s still the most successful race engineer in the modern era in Supercars in terms of results, but he’s also smart enough to understand that he doesn’t know everything.”
Dutton was race engineer for five of Whincup’s six titles and stepped up to the team manager role at Triple Eight in 2015.
“I try to put together the strongest possible team on the next level and also have Sam Michael mentoring Dutto and mentoring the others trying to get the best out of them.
“So I’ve got a completely different structure – not trying to replicate what we had before, very deliberately.
“It was time for a big change and to get the best out of everyone and get the best out of 2018 car. So I’m very excited by what we’ve done.”
He revealed onstage in a Q&A the team had been working for the past six months to replicate the shape of the new Commodore for the 2018 Supercar.
“It’s a great project,” he said.
“From a Triple Eight point of view, being able to get stuck into doing something new – and as you know there’s a new engine as well – really is a challenge and my whole team is really enthused about doing something that is new with its own set of challenges.”
While it will be a big year for the team preparing the 2018 car and working to a hectic racing schedule, Dane doesn’t see any reason why performance on-track would drop back.
“Don’t get me wrong, everyone’s got to work hard to do that – we’ve done it before.
“We won the drivers’ championship in ‘09 when we were building Holdens flat out to go racing at the beginning of 2010. We were building COTF cars like mad at the end of 2012 – a completely different car under the skin from the 2012 car – and we still won in 2012, so there’s no excuses.
“We all work as hard as we possibly can.”
Dane confirmed the team was building three new cars for Jamie Whincup, Shane van Gisbergen and Craig Lowndes, after having sold four cars in the off-season.