Hidden Valley kick-started Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes’ title race last year after dominating in the Top End. And Red Bull Racing Australia team principal Adrian Burgess is hopeful of history repeating as J-Dub and Lowndesy look to continue the form that saw them dominate the past two rounds of the V8 Supercars championship.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve found the silver bullet but we definitely understand what we’ve got a lot better than we did at the start of the year,” ATB says.
“You can never sit here and say you’re fully confident because the other guys aren’t standing still either. But we’re happier with our knowledge of the car. We’re not happy and we’ve still got to be mindful of everyone else around us, but we’ve had some strong results of late and we need to keep working and not rest on our laurels.”
And what better place than Darwin to continue to pick up where the team left off in Texas? The Red Bull drivers have shared the past six race wins between them. Couple that with their 2012 dominance of Darwin that saw them go on to claim 17 of the final 18 races of the season and Hidden Valley shapes as a massive round for Red Bull Racing Australia.
“Darwin has been a happy hunting ground for us but it is also one of the best events on tour,” ATB says.
“The locals do a very good job of making us feel welcome, the town is buzzing and the circuit is always presented in really good condition. It’s a nice place to go.
“Darwin generally produces good racing. Tyre wear is key and the people who are on top of that benefit most. It’ll be an entertaining weekend.”
While rival teams have enjoyed testing in the month-long break since Texas, Red Bull Racing Australia has refrained from doing so until later in the season. Regardless, ATB says his team has made improvements to the VF Commodores since Texas that should see the team stay with the leaders.
“We’ve got a much better understanding now of both tyre compounds and hopefully that bears fruit again in Darwin,” he says.
“We haven’t tested so we’ve had quite a good preparation. We’ve got a few new components on the car that we’ll try out on Friday. And if they work as we hope they will we’ll use them Saturday and Sunday. We’re continually trying to improve the package. We haven’t stopped working.”
Some of the more vital improvements have been to the drivers’ cool suits after they started Texas like ripe fruit and left looking like dried apricots. And not the tasty kind… It looked as if they’d fallen asleep in a bath, under the sun for three days.
“It’s meant to be 33 degrees on Friday and 31 over the weekend so it’s going to be very hot – especially for winter,” ATB says.
“But Texas gave everyone a good wake up and I’m sure every team has been paying attention to the driver cool suits. We’ve certainly made some modifications to ours from what we learned from Texas. The drivers should be cool and comfortable and we’re looking forward to a big weekend.”
Of course the weekend also welcomes the return of the controversial 60/60 format that will see Saturday’s race split into two 60km halves with a 15-minute break and double-file restart. Sunday will feature a further two races, with two qualifying sessions earlier in the morning. Check out the full telecast schedule here and don’t miss a moment of the action.