Triple Eight surprised by ‘odd’ Bathurst engine drama

Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton says his team was surprised by the engine drama that took Jamie Whincup and Paul Dumbrell out of contention at Bathurst yesterday.

Triple Eight surprised by ‘odd’ Bathurst engine drama
Jamie Whincup , Paul Dumbrell, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Jamie Whincup, Paul Dumbrell, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden
Jamie Whincup, Triple Eight Race Engineering Holden

After a quiet lead-in to the 1000-kilometre race, Whincup and Dumbrell were in the mix for a result until the car dropped a cylinder on Lap 119.

The #88 Red Bull Holden spent five laps in the pits before returning to the track, but pulled straight back into the garage the next lap. It only appeared once again, to take the finish and be classified to help Whincup score crucial championship points.

It wasn’t as rewarding a points-score as it could have been, though, with former points leader Scott McLaughlin already out of the race with an engine drama of his own.

Looking back at the problem, Dutton said the team expected it to be a rocker, that having been a problem area for the Triple Eight engine package this year. Instead it appears to be more likely related to a valve.

“We thought it was a rocker, we took the rocker covers off, and it wasn’t a rocker,” said Dutton.

“It’s very odd because we were very well-prepared coming in here. Everything was really, really fresh, so it’s a strange one.

“We’ve had a rocker go this year, and that’s why we thought it was that straight away. We’ve had an issue with the mileage of the rockers from the manufacturer, they’re not lasting like they’re supposed to.

“Hence we were really well prepared for here, and why it wasn’t the issue.

“Everything was going great. In the lead-up to every session you check that the drivers aren’t over-revving, even little over-revs on the downshift. But they were perfect, they were so good that we didn’t see it coming for anyone.

“So we need to understand what the issue was.”

With Whincup having struggled for car speed through much of the Great Race build-up – to the point that he didn’t even make Saturday’s Top 10 Shootout and started the race in 11th – Dutton said it was good to see the car finally show some speed before the engine failure intervened on Sunday.

But he added that he still feels that Whincup and Dumbrell were working too hard to be quick.

“We still weren’t happy with our car speed,” he said. “We had good speed, but we had to push bloody hard for it.

“I’m not saying other people weren’t pushing, but it’s always better when you’re a bit more comfortable and you can wind off a couple of per cent. I’m not talking about a lot, but previous years, when we’ve been able to nail the set-up… last year for example, when Jamie was quickest in every session.

“It just means you’re not running on the limit so much, and it’s easier for the drivers to not get caught out.”

Dutton also said that the switch to Project Mu brake pads for the Whincup and Craig Lowndes cars, made due to cracking in the Performance Friction discs during Thursday practice, made life tougher than usual for the drivers.

“We got a bit bitten by the brakes,” he said.

“For two of the cars we had to change the brake compounds, because they were exploding the discs – or at least preparing them for an explosion.

“That’s not ideal, so I think the drivers did a cracking job.

“The problem is in a long race like Bathurst, although the drivers are excellent at adapting and all that kind of stuff, there’s still the muscle memory, the catches where they’re so used to one compound that it means we’re pushing things past the limit.”

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