It’s all going on and we’re now just a couple of weeks away from the start of the 2016 V8 Supercar Championship.
I am very pleased to report that my broken collarbone has healed well after weeks of rest – doctor’s orders – and I’ve now done a full day’s Testing in my brand new TeamVortex Holden Commodore.
Built to the very latest spec by Triple Eight, teammate Jamie Whincup actually shook the car down for me a few days before the Test because we were trying to give me maximum time to heal. Jamie was quick to report that the car felt great … I think he wanted to keep it for himself!
Just three days later I got the chance to try it for myself, at the season’s first official Test Day at Queensland Raceway.
Tekno and new driver Will Davison, with whom I’ll be sharing a garage all season, was there as well, as were the two Penske-DJR Fords of Scott Pye and Fabian Coulthard.
So with our three Triple Eight cars on track too, plus some Dunlop Series cars, and very hot conditions, there was plenty going on.
The Test was the first official day working with my new Engineer Ludo Lacroix.
To call him ‘new’ is a bit misleading because he’s been Technical Director at Triple Eight for a decade and is the technical mastermind behind the team’s success … many regard him as the smartest bloke in pitlane.
Ludo is very French and can be hard to understand sometimes, especially when he’s excited, which is most of the time!
But Ludo and I have partnered up because we both share a strong interest in development and trying new ideas, and that’s something that really excites me about this year. I’ll be the first to experiment some of his brainwaves and that’s going to give me an edge some times, and some times it won’t!
That’ll be the challenge … working together to develop the car and, once proven, passing that onto teammates Jamie and newboy Shane Van Gizbergen.
Ludo is also there to train up promising young engineer John McGregor – known to everyone in the team as “Irish” for obvious reasons … I think our biggest challenge this year might be getting clear communication going between an Aussie, a Frenchman and an Irishman!
It was great to get into my new TeamVortex Commodore for the first time at the Test Day … it’s funny, no matter how long the season feels and how much you look forward to a break at the end of it, after a couple of weeks out of the car you’re itching to get back in again!
Needless to say, the car felt really good straight out of the box and my collarbone injury didn’t bother me at all … once I did a couple of laps to get my ‘eye in’ I forgot all about that and concentrated on working through our joblist.
It all went very smoothly and, working with both Jamie and Shane, we got through a tonne of stuff ahead of the Clipsal weekend.
Naturally I can’t disclose too much about our development during the ‘off season’ but I can say we’ve been working hard, and based on the Test Day, we’re confident we’ll be in pretty good shape come Clipsal.
Of course, everyone in the V8 Supercar field has been working away since the end of the season developing new ideas and looking for that competitive edge, so at this stage everyone is optimistic ahead the first races of the new season.
Based on what I hear around the place, there’s going to be about 12 cars on pole position at Clipsal and 20 blokes who reckon they’ll win the first race!
And don’t forget to keep your eyes on the Tyrepower Facebook page in the next couple of weeks for your chance to win a hot lap with me.