Stop, lock and drop it

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 26/05/2016
  • By Kassie Gadeke

Triple Eight’s garages have implemented a new process in pit lane to help speed up pit stops.

The Red Bull garage shifted from the ‘lollipop’ – like a stop sign at a worksite – to the 'pit board' in Perth. Both methods indicates to the driver where he needs to stop to be ‘on the marks’ and lined up with the crew, which is prepared to change tyres and sometimes add fuel.

For the Woodstock Winton SuperSprint, the TeamVortex/TEKNO garage adopted the new process, which Craig Lowndes believes will better suit he and Will Davison in the long run.

“We’ve operated probably for the last five years at Red Bull with the ‘lollipop’ or the boom,” Lowndes told supercars.com.

“That’s worked for us for a number of years, but it’s probably a little bit inconsistent, and Will is struggling a little bit with that. The Red Bull guys opted to try something different at Perth with a board like Prodrive, and they liked it. Jono Webb (TEKNO boss) and us talked about adopting that.

“Will had struggled a little bit, and I was hit and miss with it and we opted to go to the same procedure with the board.”

With the new-for-2016 Saturday race format, teams complete pit stops in every race, bar the International SuperSprint events – so quick work in the pit lane is a big advantage.

Lowndes preferred the new process and was happy with his quick times in the lane. 

“Our stops were really good [on Sunday]. I’m not sure about Will’s but our stops were really easy and consistent. When we can stop on the marks it makes it much easier for the crew – if we’re a foot out or a foot wide it’s an extra second on the stop and at the moment the way the competition is you can’t afford to have that.”

Davison had a drama in his Saturday pit stop, with boss Webb suggesting he pulled in too close to the right rear tyre changer and may have tapped the tyre, losing about five seconds as they regrouped.

Davison explained it could be quite difficult to pull into the bay when a Prodrive car behind and Red Bull car in front were also getting serviced.

“It is tricky – sometimes you don’t want to crowd the guys on the garage side, which is what I was mindful of [on Saturday]. In Perth you crowd the fuel guy … so I sort of probably went a little bit the other side,” Davison said.

“We’ll keep working on it … to improve, we just need to do a better job – not just my part, everyone’s part, everyone needs to.

“We’ve been working on me stopping on the marks a bit better, the guys working with the Triple Eight guys and practicing a lot – there’s a combo of things we’re working on and it won’t be long until we’ve got it.”

The only opportunities the TEKNO and Vortex teams have to practice stops together are at race meetings and test days. Both will test before the Darwin event, with pit stops one of the focuses.

The stops are very physical for the crews – particularly in a Sunday 200km race where they may do six stops, three for each car that shares the boom.

Winton also brought to light the difficulties of Triple Eight operating across two garages when there was contact between Lowndes and Red Bull’s Shane van Gisbergen when both were released from their stops.

Lowndes said there was no upset about it behind the scenes.

“We were fine,” he said.  

“I think the stewards were happy with it, they didn’t come and see us. You’re allowed to have some overlap – obviously there’s a point where it’s too much, but it wasn’t front wheel to rear wheel, it was sort of, front guard to rear guard. I backed out of it and we kept on racing. You’ve got to have some common sense.

“Bargs [Jason Bargwanna, driving standards observer] has a hell of a job anyway, you’ve just got to use your common sense … that wasn’t dangerous, it was competition.”

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