TeamVodafone's Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes looked more than ready to take on the competition and defend the team's outstanding 2008 results ahead of this weekend's V8 Supercar season-opener after a strong two-day test at Queensland Raceway.
Crew and drivers toiled from dawn until dusk after rolling their brand new racecars out for the first time, and sessions were spent learning the characteristics of the evolved Ford Falcon body design which promotes greater front grip, as well as working with new engines and bedding in new and improved parts, while added challenges included testing the efficiency of the new category-standard E85 fuel and softer compound tyre.
Although a crowded track and intermittent wet weather hampered progress on day one, the team was satisfied with the gains it made across the course of the second session, with performance also reflected in the results of its customer cars, which regularly topped the timecharts and rarely featured outside the top six.
“As it was its first time on track, the car had a few small problems on Wednesday, but we managed to iron them out across the course of the day,” reigning champion Whincup, who won the season-opener on debut with the team in 2006, and scored a second Adelaide victory in 2008 reported.
“Thursday was much more productive – we had a drier track and had a much better direction to take the set-up in, which resulted in significant gains. We were able to work on a solid qualifying set-up and are quietly confident heading into Clipsal 500 this week.”
Team-mate Lowndes also took a number of positives from the test, including the opportunity to run a full race simulation.
“The test was all about bedding in the cars for Clipsal,” he said, “We learnt a lot about the characteristics of the car on track and how it will run on the new E85 blend of fuel.
“Despite being slightly interrupted by rain, I did a full-blown 250-kilometre race simulation, with pit-stops, and the car ran faultlessly. This gave us a really good idea on how it will respond on tyres at the differing stages of wear. Along with testing the cars, we were also able test the pit crew in a number of race situations which will be valuable come race day.”
The pit crew also warmed up for Adelaide as Lowndes and Whincup took on Port Adelaide Football Club players and TeamVodafone fans in a fast-paced pit-stop challenge, completing a tyre change against the stopwatch.
“We always look forward to the pit-stop challenge,” Whincup admitted, “It's great to spend some time with fans before our first race meeting. Vodafone puts on a terrific event here each year, and today was no exception. It was fun to take on the Power players and get our competitive mindset going ahead of the weekend.”