Aero change saved Holden's Bathurst hopes – Triple Eight
The Bathurst 1000 would have been a "non-event" for the Holden teams if not for the aero update made to the Commodore, says Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton.
The Commodores went into last weekend's New Zealand round with a new aero package, consisting of a new front tray, a Gurney flap on the bottom plane of the rear wing, and the deletion of a brake light bracket above the rear windscreen.
The introduction of the new package coincided with a season-best showing for Triple Eight, which is also the Holden homologator.
There was a one-two on the road on Saturday, only scuppered by a post-race penalty for Jamie Whincup, while both Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen showed front-running pace on the Sunday.
Whincup's Sunday race, however, was unravelled by his starring role in the controversial Safety Car debacle.
While adamant that the Commodore is still at an overall downforce deficit to the Mustang, Dutton says he feels the Holden package is now in a position to take the fight to the Ford teams.
And had the change not happened, he predicts the Bathurst 1000 – the jewel in the Supercars crown – would have been a one-sided affair.
"Without these changes, Bathurst, unfortunately for the Holdens, would have been a non-event," he said.
"That was the level of importance of these changes to happen for the category.
"It's a massive success that the category did them in time."
Prior to the changes being made, there had been whispers from both sides of the Ford/Holden divide that the slipperier Commodore aero package may have actually been an advantage come race day at Mount Panorama.
Dutton, however, says he'll happily pay the drag penalty to have an overall increase in downforce, even with that long run down Conrod Straight looming.
"Definitely happy to have the downforce," he said.
"It just showed [at Pukekohe] how much lap time it is.
"These cars, the amount of downforce they have has grown over the years to more than perhaps intended in the category initially. And that's across all marques.
"That means it's even more important to have as much as your opposition or as close to as much as your opposition [possible], otherwise your lap times don't compare.
"So we'll take the drag penalty for sure."
Dutton said the team's pre-Bathurst test, set to take place at Queensland Raceway on September 30, will help the team assess the tightrope between downforce and drag.
"We haven't had a chance to see how efficient it is, how it's affected the wing at all different angles, how linear your downforce is..." said Dutton.
"All those type of things that we'll donate a fair bit of time to at our coming test day to really understand the scientific side of it all."
"Usually your pre-Bathurst enduro test is all about changing brakes, co-drivers getting enough laps, just running through all that. You don't usually spend it going as hardcore looking for speed.
"You're always trying to but not to the extent that we will be this time. It'll be even busier than normal, but that's exciting, the fact that we know there's more to come.
Dutton also reckons the upswing in form on show at Pukekohe with the new aero package proves the theory that the team was simply struggling with the move to a linear sprint wrong.
"I love that as soon as the gap was bridged our team, and other Holdens, were showing that we haven't forgotten how to go fast," he said.
"All the talk all year, everyone saying 'geez you can't get your head around a single spring', I think that puts a stop to that because we still don't have as much downforce [as the Mustang], and look at the results of the weekend.
"So full credit to our team, and all the Holden teams, to show that we still know how to set up a Supercar, even if we make other mistakes along the way."
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