V8 Supercars are about to roll in to Adelaide for the Clipsal 500, 27th Feb – 2nd March. This year the Clipsal 500 will stage three races over the weekend, 2 x 125km races on Saturday and 1 x 250km race on Sunday.
There has been a lot happening over the past few months in world of V8 Supercars and I will try and bring you up to speed.
Volvo has announced their entry in to the 2014 series and will be racing the S60. They completed 200 laps in Sydney last week as part of the preseason testing while only suffering minor power steering faults.
“We were really pleased to finish the day,” GRM engineer Richard Hollway told Speedcafe.com.
“Obviously we’ve got to strip them down and have a look but the engines ran almost 200 laps without a problem.
“Chassis-wise the balance was different, we had a bit of understeer, but we can now go away and work on that for Clipsal.
“Obviously we’ve got some power steering issues there that we’ve got to sort out, but we’ll go away and think about it before hitting the track in Adelaide.”
Hollway also praised Dahlgren, who enjoyed his first V8 Supercars mileage during the day.
“It’s unfortunate that people are running different tyres and the weather was spitting because it doesn’t give you a good guage, but I think he did a really good job,” he said.
“Those guys went through a range of basic changes so he’s now got a feel for what all those do.
“A couple of changes they made produced some good steps forward, so it was very positive.”
Dahlgren said he thoroughly enjoyed the day, despite the trying conditions.
“The conditions could not have been tougher with torrential rain and a drying track with a completely new car,” he said.
“For me there was a lot of new impressions, but I got in to it and it is just so much fun.”
Erebus Mercedes are starting their second season in V8 Supercars and have vowed to find consistency throughout the year. In their 2013 season Erebus only had a matter of 2 months to get a car together and put it on the grid for Clipsal. 12 months on and they now entering 2014 with their eyes open.
“We went close to winning at Queensland Raceway last year (where Tim Slade was running second before slipping off the road), but I think what we need to be able to do is first of all be consistent,” he told Speedcafe.com when asked if Erebus can be a winning force this year.
“If we can get that and keep improving our speed throughout the year I’d like to think we’ll be challenging for podiums, but I’m not going to stick my head out and say we’ll win races.
Davison and Holdsworth
“I think you’ve got to walk before you run and a good weekend for us in Adelaide this time around would be to have two cars in the top 10.
“That would be a really positive start to the year for us.”
Nissan are also entering their second year and unlike Erebus Nissan had a very successful year in 2013 and are looking for a win in 2014. They had reliability issues towards the end of the season but this year they are much wiser in the engine set up.
“Basically, what we’ve done is settle on a spec with which we’ll start the season, which is very similar to the one we ran from Bathurst onwards last year,” Todd Kelly said at the Sydney test.
“We’ve committed enough parts to get us through the first half of the season with valves, valve springs, heads… the whole package.
“The only real difference is that last year we went probably a little bit too far with our ports and then had a couple of failures towards the end of the year.
“So the start of this season we’ve brought that back a little bit, which doesn’t really cost us any power but will give us more reliability.
“We’ve also done a lot of work on our cooling system to prevent some of the heat cycles that we were seeing last year.”
The upgrades, meanwhile, are expected to come from Japan, rather than the United States.
Kelly says that the prospect of a cylinder head casting change at Nissan’s Tennessee VK56 plant remains “in our plans”, but isn’t a short-term priority.
“If we do a cylinder head casting thing that’s a long-term project; that wouldn’t be on the cards for at least the next six months,” he said.
“The work at Nismo in Japan is ticking along quite well, there’s four or five emails and phone calls every day of the week between us and them.
“They’ve done a lot of work with the cylinder head and camshafts, a lot of simulation stuff with the technology they’ve got over there.
“There’s a good chance we can get some good gains working with what we’ve already got (the existing cylinder head).
Ford & Holden car manufactures in Australia announced last year that they will be closing both plans in 2016 and will be importing the Ford Falcon replacement and the Holden Commodore into Australia from 2017.
This news has now questioned the remainder of the V8 Supercar teams that run both Ford and Holden racing cars as to what manufacture they will be using in the future. Both Ford and Holden back teams will continue to run these cars but the other independent teams will have difficult choices to make and will be trying hard to entice other manufactures to join the series.
Red Bull Racing Australia have extended V8 Supercars 2013 Champion Jamie Whincups contract until the end of 2015. He will again partner Craig Lownds who finished second last year in the championship.
The sport is changing so much, my best is still yet to come, so one year is good,” he said.
“It guarantees me at Red Bull Racing for 2015. One year is a long time, I don’t plan too far ahead.
“I have done three year deals in the past, but not when the category is changing so dramatically for everyone.
“There are new manufacturers, there are all sorts of things. It’s all happening, which is great for the sport.”
Reading between the lines (he is keeping options open as you never know what new manufacture could join next year, BMW?)
Click here to view all the drives and teams for the 2014 series