The epic week that was the Bathurst 1000 2014 has extended and at Red Bull Racing Australia HQ the legendary debriefs are still rolling. The guys are occasionally released for bathroom breaks and to catch a glimpse of daylight, but while their stocks of Red Bull are continually replenished there aren’t many other reasons for them to leave.
We did however manage to pin down Race Team Manager Mark “Dutto” Dutton for a quick chat during one of his brief appearances from the dungeon, ahem, boardroom. He was just heading over to the window to check whether JDub had made it to the car park yet. Apparently there was concern his new Caltex StarCard hadn’t arrived in the post yet.
Despite it being probably the hardest week in the team’s eleven year history, Dutto isn’t one to be discouraged and is confident that they’ll come back stronger from the adversities of Bathurst: “There were a few highlights. We started on a high with the Air Force activities. All the work done to get it to that stage was already a massive highlight.”
Ah yes, the camo cars. The partnership between RBRA and the Royal Australia Air Force was something incredibly special and Dutto makes no bones about what an awesome experience it was for both parties.
“The coolest thing about working with the Air Force was seeing how pumped up all the girls and guys were, and seeing how much the roles overlapped – the methodology, attention to detail, everything having to be right. They were mega pumped to see us and had a lot of fun doing it as well. The new lap record doesn’t actually belong to any of the drivers, it belongs to Wilko, the pilot, from his lap in the Hercules.
“The teamwork was also a massive highlight,” he continued. “For everyone, including the drivers, to just keep pushing through the week and fighting with the right attitude right to the very last lap was incredible.
“It was a difficult race and you never want to learn things the hard way, but generally if you learn them that hard you only have to learn them once. We’ll be stronger.”
The hot topic of conversation since the Great Race has been those closing laps and how exactly Jamie managed to run out of fuel in the dying moments of the last lap. Good question! Dutto?
“It’s not from a lack of attention and effort going into it, but we’ve learnt that we can do things better,” Dutto said. “The car was full after its last stop – we couldn’t have got more fuel in there.
“The other frontrunners all did stops closer to the end so they all had more fuel in at the end. We decided not to do that because we thought we were on target and we were hitting our numbers, but there were some errors with our numbers and we’re not hiding that.
“Jamie had ultimate faith in the team’s numbers being right, so he was averaging the target numbers the whole time. In the pits, with the lack of pressure from other cars, we wanted some insurance in case our numbers were wrong, but he was confident those numbers were right. The accuracy we run our numbers to makes it a highly complex equation to allow the drivers maximum speed. Unfortunately this was the worst time for his faith in us to be let down.
“Either way, our numbers should have been right, first and foremost, and we’ve got to investigate why. Then he should have taken the opportunity for the insurance and driven to what we were telling him later, but he didn’t.”
Hindsight is a marvellous thing. So is Foxtel, and one thing that Dutto will be sure to go and review on playback will be the two incidents that caused both Red Bull Holdens drive-through penalties.
“I definitely have to watch the race again and see the incidents with open, non-biased eyes,” he said. “Jamie’s was fair for what happened – the other car doesn’t have to move.
“Craig’s I’m not so sure. It was more of a racing incident because Craig’s got one car right on his tail, Winterbottom seemed to be a little bit sideways because he’s tried to cover Jamie, which he couldn’t, so he’s made a mistake and then the domino effect of his mistake was that when cars are bunched up like that it’s easy to be turned around. I think less warranted Craig’s than Jamie’s.”
It may have been a week of trials and tribulations, but the beauty of a five-time championship winning team is that they’re determined to bounce back stronger next time.
“Everyone’s feeling very tired, but positive to move on,” Dutto said. “Everyone’s looking forward to the Gold Coast, but no one’s had a break since Bathurst. Bathurst was huge and then combine that with an average of three or four hours sleep a night every night of that week, that makes it even tougher.
“Combine that with the disappointment of the last lap on Sunday and it all takes a physical and emotional toll on everyone because every single person invests so much of their energy into what we do.
“Everyone is definitely burning the candles at both ends now to try and ensure that Gold Coast is a much neater and cleaner weekend with smooth running. If we roll out with fast cars, everyone’s smiling even if you’re doing repairs.”
Bring on the Gold Coast 600!