10 Feb 2017
The start of every new season is nerve-wracking. For our engineers, it’s especially tough; they have to ensure our cars are both reliable and competitive, while juggling incredibly tight deadlines.
Each new season also brings a few regulatory changes, when all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle get thrown into the air, scattered around and then pieced back together. The pressure to get it right is immense and sometimes stressful.
Not only that, there are changes happening inside the walls at HQ, which can make everyone all that little bit more anxious.
We sat down with the guy that heads up the engineering department, Alistair McVean, to find out how 2017 is unfolding.
“We’ve got a several big challenges to start the year. The main challenge the whole category facing is the new tyre and everyone will be in the dark on exactly what it is going to do; except for Triple Eight, who have already done the initial testing on it. We’re getting rig tested data this year, which will be very valuable for a team like ours because we don’t have huge resources to throw at doing it all ourselves, so we are looking forward to receiving that. It will be the teams that can adapt to the tyre and understand what it needs the quickest, that will be successful.”
“The biggest safety change people will see this year is the way the netting around the driver is set up. Rather than being a window net near the door, there’s now a triangular-style net on either side of the seat, which is designed to prevent the drivers head from popping out around the seat in a big frontal collision. Looking at the information we have received, that’s a significant improvement and everyone’s madly working to try and implement that correctly and in the right way.”
“I think the longer races at Phillip Island and Pukekohe will be a positive. The shorter the races, the less number of pit stops, the more processional the racing gets. The field is so close together, it becomes impossible to pass anyone so the only way to change it up is to bring in opportunities for people to do something different, which is where strategy is really important. I’m a big fan of the change, it gives the whole team a bigger change to have an impact on the race itself, whereas the short races you basically wave goodbye to them on the grid.”
“We’re now integrating Dale into the mix; last year we did a good job with Dave, getting him towards the front but the second car was still down towards the back. We need to build together to get the two cars to the front of the grid.”
“Building a new car from scratch, and putting it all together with minimal outside assistance is a big challenge. It’s also an opportunity to make things better as well, to customise it to what we want. There is a lot we can’t change but we’ve put our own take on a few little areas to make it a little nicer and simpler. We also aim to pick the best parts we can find, rather than just taking what we’ve got, so I think that will make a much nicer product. After all, we did finish last year with the oldest chassis on the grid.”
Original article: http://penriteracing.com.au/2017/02/2017-the-lowdown/