Intrigue over wildcard straightline speed

Tuesday 15th October, 2013 - 1:00am

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The Xbox Holden stole much attention on Sunday

The Xbox Holden stole much attention on Sunday

Triple Eight technical director Ludo Lacroix insists it was aerodynamic efficiency, rather than engine performance, that was behind the notable straightline advantage of the team’s wildcard entry at Bathurst.

Internationals Mattias Ekstrom and Andy Priaulx starred throughout the weekend on the way to an eventual 10th placed finish in their one-off showing.

The pair at one point appeared an outside threat for victory as, pulling away from eventual winner Mark Winterbottom, Ekstrom led the race until handing over to Priaulx on lap 134.

Several laps short on fuel of being able to run to the chequered flag under green conditions, any slim chances of avoiding an eighth stop were soon dashed by a lock-up from Priaulx early in his stint.

The biggest talking point surrounding the car on Sunday was not its drivers however, but rather its straightline speed.

Several rivals commented to their teams during the race that they could not keep up with the Xbox car up Mountain Straight and down Conrod.

Ford Performance Racing’s Will Davison described its speed as “ridiculous”, while even Triple Eight’s own Craig Lowndes made reference to wanting “Ludo’s engine”.

Lucas Dumbrell, whose team runs customer Triple Eight equipment, joked on Twitter that he was “pretty sure the #XboxOne car has 750hp or is running #E70”.

Official speed trap data supplied by a team to Speedcafe.com on Sunday showed the Xbox Holden to be the quickest of all cars, with its 289km/h reading a full 4km/h ahead of that managed by Lowndes or the winning FPR Falcon of Mark Winterbottom.

The car also recorded a faster final sector, which stretches from the exit of Forrest’s Elbow to the control line, than either of the two Red Bull entries over the 161 lap contest.

Lacroix, who returned to the role of race engineer for the first time in several seasons in order to look after the internationals, spoke proudly of the car’s pace post-race, but denied suggestions that its engine was running development components.

“Our engine was not actually as good as the top two (Triple Eight’s Red Bull cars),” he told Speedcafe.com.

“We wouldn’t put the best engine in that car if we could put it there (Red Bull).

“It wasn’t special, but the car was the quickest because I know how to make a quick car in a straight line.

“It’s cooling, it’s not carrying toe, not carrying camber… it’s just being clever,” he continued.

“Maybe we are not quickest across the top, but we’re quick in a straightline.

“Here when you race with ‘youngsters’, there is no point making them quick across the top and then they get beaten in a straightline.

“You need to make sure that when they are in the pack nobody can beat them.”

Lacroix added that the team’s off-sequence strategy in the race’s final third had been designed to keep the duo out of the pack.

“We had to stop (for an eighth time) because, we should have stopped very, very early, but at the time it’s difficult to put these guys back in the middle of the pack,” he said.

“It’s better to put them with the good ones (drivers) and they can learn very quickly the track. I think that was the best strategy.”

The 10th placed finish ensured that Ekstrom was the first of the six rookies home.

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