VIRGINIA, Queensland, Australia — Team Preview by Race Chaser Online V8 Supercars Correspondent James Pike — Robert Cianflone/ Getty Images AsiaPac photo –
Welcome back to Race Chaser Online’s previews for the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship! Our series of previews concludes with a look at the top team in the championship from last year (and the year before that, and the year before that…), Red Bull Racing Australia.
Red Bull Racing Australia / Triple Eight Race Engineering
No. 1 – Jamie Whincup, Red Bull Holden Commodore VF
No. 888 – Craig Lowndes, Red Bull Holden Commodore VF
2014 TEAM POINTS FINISH: 1st
2014 HIGHLIGHT MOMENT: Jamie Whincup’s ten ARMOR ALL Pole Positions, which sent him to the top of the all-time pole chart for the combined history of ATCC/ V8 Supercars, and Whincup taking the all-time lead in ATCC/ V8 Supercars with his record-breaking sixth title (and fourth in a row)
At this point, the better way to examine the success of Red Bull Racing Australia (yes, originally known as Triple Eight Race Engineering) is not to look at the team in relation to the rest of the field, but instead to compare them to the history of Australian motorsport.
That process begins with Jamie Whincup. Jamie led the series again in victories (14), podiums (21), top five finishes (28), and poles (10 in a tie with Scott McLaughlin of Wilson Security Racing GRM). At the end of the season, these numbers resulted in Whincup collecting his sixth V8 Supercars drivers championship, putting him alone at the top for the greatest number of championships won by a driver in the history of Australian motorsport. Simply put, Whincup is one of the greatest drivers to ever hail from Australia already — and he’s only 31 years old!
While it was undoubtedly Whincup’s 2014, his teammate – Craig Lowndes – was very good in 2014 as well. Lowndes posted three wins, 15 podiums, and five poles, and finished third in the championship standings.
However, for all of their dominance, Red Bull Racing Australia were not entirely perfect last season.
Their most notable flop came in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, where Whincup was leading in the closing stages but failed to conserve enough fuel to make it to the end. He ran out of gas on the final lap and was passed by none other than Prodrive Racing Australia’s Chaz Mostert – Whincup could only watch helplessly as a driver from RBRA’s arch nemesis took the glory on the Mountain.
Lowndes also had a few slip-ups in 2014– none more costly than in the season finale at Homebush, where he missed the top 10 in all three races and ceded second place in the drivers’ championship to Tekno Autosports’ Shane van Gisbergen.
With those mishaps, Red Bull Racing Australia do (contrary to popular belief) do have goals to race for and achieve in 2015. Whincup and Lowndes will both be focused on the all-time Australian motorsport wins leaderboard, where Whincup is currently third (with 89 career victories) and Lowndes leads (with 97). Jamie will take second on that list and pass the legendary driver-turned-V8 Supercars-commentator Mark Skaife with his next two victories and will be gunning for Craig’s record.
Given that Jamie won 11 more races than Craig did in 2014, it is entirely possible that Whincup could become the owner of that record at one of the Summer rounds (in Hidden Valley, Townsville, Queensland Raceway, and Sydney Motorsport Park). That might lead to some “friendly competition” within the top team in the sport, which should lead to more entertaining races for the fans!
Each driver will have his own set of feats to accomplish as well. Lowndes will want to regain second in the drivers points, while Whincup will want to win Bathurst for what would be the fifth time come October 2015.
Had luck fallen his way, Whincup might be arriving on the mountain seeking an unprecedented fourth consecutive Bathurst 1000 victory – he was in contention to win in both 2013 and 2014 before a failed last-lap pass for the lead and the aforementioned fuel loss cost him his chances to win. It will all be in an effort to chase and eventually catch the late Peter Brock’s record of nine victories on the Mountain – should Whincup eventually tie or pass that, it will be hard to deny his status as the greatest V8 Supercars driver of all time.
There is no question that Red Bull Racing Australia is the best team in V8 Supercars at this moment. While it is true that the competition has closed the gap over the past few seasons (last year in the likes of the Holden Racing Team, Tekno Autosport, and Wilson Security Racing GRM), the fact remains that RBRA will be working on its seventh consecutive team championship in 2015.
To that end, the story heading into the 2015 season is much the same as it has been – the rest of the series is trying their best to play catch-up, and Red Bull Racing is looking back upon them, egging them on to “catch us if you can”.