Why is Winton Red Bull's bogey track?

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 15/05/2015
  • By V8 Supercars

The Red Bull Racing Australia team believes it has an issue at Winton Motor Raceway.

While the Victorian circuit has seen both Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes take four race wins - tied on the most victories at the track with Garth Tander and Jason Bright - in the past two years they have failed to feature, with the Champion team's recent stats poor by his standards.

The trouble has been since the new generation cars - Whincup took one pole on Saturday in 2013, but was struck down with driveline issues, and from then on has qualified no better than 13th in five races, with only two top 10 finishes and two DNFs.

Lowndes' results are just marginally better with three top 10 finishes - but all in all, not the results Red Bull wants when it goes V8 Supercars racing.

Team boss Mark Dutton did credit Whincup's 2013 pole position as an accomplishment; however, he believes the team just hasn't been able to demystify the tight, twisty 3km track.

"We still haven't had the success we expect and demand of ourselves - but it is a tricky joint as well," Dutton told v8supercars.com.au.

"We still don't feel we've had a car as good as we would've liked, even though we did have some success on the Saturday there ... and last year [with] the track changes, we didn't get on top of as quick as some other people.

"With the old car, a number of years in a row we were dominating, but it definitely hasn't been the case with the new cars."

Dutton said it had been "all heads down" in the lead-up to this weekend as they try to shake the troubles toget Lowndes his 100th race win and get Whincup further up the points table.

"You work through it normally, but you do spend extra time because you don't have that foundation to build on from a track you've done well in previous years," he explained.

"We've got some ideas - although I said that last year and probably didn't come up trumps!

"Being honest, it's definitely a big focus - as is any round - but you do have to put some extra focus to try and understand. When you do a pre-brief to a round you're good at, you know what worked, what didn't work, what you can build off; whereas when you go to one you haven't been good at with the new cars, you don't have as much to build off.

"You still have ideas and theories ... but you do spend extra time because you don't have that foundation to build on from a track you've done well in previous years. So all heads down here."

Winton serves as the test track for Victorian-based teams, which means competitors would potentially have more accurate data in the new generation cars - but Dutton wouldn't use that as an excuse, simply stating the Red Bull team needs to do a better job.

"Sometimes that can help [testing] and maybe with a new car that could be a bigger factor ... I'm definitely not going to use that as any kind of excuse for them beating us," he says.

"We haven't done a good enough job - it wasn't like we did a good job and they did a better job. We look and our stuff and we could've and should've done a better job internally and that's what we'll focus on doing."

While this early to mid-point of the season has previously been strong for Lowndes - who led the Championship heading into the fourth round, this stage last year - Whincup now sees it as a challenging mix of circuits.

Although he didn't seem overly worried, Whincup did tell v8supercars.com.au they took a hit after Perth, having earned 110 less points than Championship leader Lowndes and fell from first to fifth in the title fight, now 87 points off the lead.

An uncharacteristic driver error hurt his cause on Sunday, and in one of Saturday's races he could not extract a qualifying lap out of his Holden Commodore.

Dutton said on Sunday morning car balance was the issue - and while the team has theories on what went wrong, without testing and replicating the conditions on track it would be difficult to know if the troubles would reoccur this weekend.

"You can never know for sure. There were no mechanical failures, there was no, 'hang on, someone didn't put something in the right spot' or we didn't have what we thought," Dutton said. "It is hard to be Monday's expert without actually being on track."

Whincup's engineer David Cauchi recently stressed on the Red Bull Racing Australia website that managing Friday practice was the key, to ensure they are on the ball for the two qualifying sessions that will feature tomorrow morning.

"We just need to do a better job in Friday practice and make sure we're doing a good job with the tyres we have," Cauchi said.

Cauchi - who went through the tough spell with Whincup last year, his first year taking over the race engineer role from Dutton - agreed they would need to start turning things around, and said their record at Winton wasn't confidence-inspiring.

"We need to understand where we are with the car and the tyres relative to the tyre condition and just make sure we don't get lost, then find that the car's not where we need it when we put on some good rubber.

"I think that's been the most difficult part and where I've personally been struggling. Then collectively, as Jamie and me as a pair, we've been falling over a bit."

Can Red Bull break the bogey and perform well at Winton this time around? Vote now and comment below, as the V8 Supercars hit the track for the NP300 Navara Winton SuperSprint tomorrow in Victoria.

Stay tuned this weekend for all the V8 Supercars action:

Saturday -Race 10: 13.50, Race 11: 16.20, FOX SPORTS 506
Highlights: 20.30 ONE, 24.00 Ten.

Sunday - Race 12: 13.15, FOX SPORTS 506
Highlights: 16.00 Ten, 20.30 ONE.

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