LAUNCESTON, Tasmania — official team release — Robert Cianflone/Getty Images AsiaPac photo —
Last year’s TyrePower Tasmania 400 was more of an emotional roller-coaster for Red Bull Racing Australia than a teenage girl being denied access to a One Direction concert.
The inter-team friendly fire, Craig Lowndes’ exclusion from qualifying, his epic charge to finish that followed — and ultimately RBRA’s first clean sweep – made for a script that could rival Days of Thunder.
However, as six-time series champion Jamie Whincup says, last year is last year and RBRA has a mountain of work before them to bounce back and challenge the form shown by other teams at the season-opening Clipsal 500 and the recent Australian Grand Prix.
“Everyone’s talking about last year’s results, but again — last year is last year,” Whincup said. “There’s been plenty going on at the start of this year and we haven’t quite been as fast as we would have liked. We certainly haven’t had shockers, we’ve been there or thereabouts, but we haven’t been the quickest car at the last two rounds, so we’ve got work to do.”
Whincup circles the Tasmania event as one that allows teams to return to the basics after the season’s first two prestigious races.
“It’ll be quite refreshing to go back to the grass roots of Australian motorsport,” Whincup added. “We’ve just come off two massive events, so this is a fairly different one, but one I enjoy just being a traditional event.”
RBRA hopes that history will be kind to them, considering the team’s stellar record at Symmons Plains Raceway.
Just a season ago, Whincup swept all three ARMOR ALL Pole Awards and won two of the three events, while his teammate Lowndes took the Sunday finale. In all, Whincup has ten wins, six poles and 370 career laps led at the Launceston circuit — all series records — while Lowndes has seven victories, five poles and 259 laps led at SPR.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to Tassie. We had a great run there last year and our car speed was really good,” said Lowndes. “It’ll be nice to get back into the championship mode after the Grand Prix, so [I’m keeping my] fingers crossed we can have another strong outing. It’s proven at the moment that the competition is going to be tough, but I believe that we can bounce back from what we had at Clipsal and the Grand Prix.”
“[Symmons Plains] is a circuit that I enjoy and it’s one of only two where we lap in under a minute, so the lap times go very fast, but having that extra practice time is really going to be invaluable for our learning and understanding.”
At a track where front-row starts are particularly influential on podium positions, the action is often some of the most closely fought of the season. Over the years, 20 pole positions have been won by less than a tenth of a second, while the closest race-winning margin stands at 0.1038 seconds — set in 2008 when Whincup took the win ahead of Lowndes in Race Three.
Action kicks off at the Symmons Plains Raceway with practice on Friday beginning at 10:05 a.m. local time.
CREDIT: Red Bull Racing Australia