Fresh engines for Volvo Bathurst assault

Tuesday 7th October, 2014 - 4:00am

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Volvo's Scott McLaughlin/Alex Premat and Robert Dahlgren/Greg Ritter entries at Sandown

Volvo’s Scott McLaughlin/Alex Premat and Robert Dahlgren/Greg Ritter entries at Sandown

Volvo Polestar Racing will head to the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 armed with two fresh engines direct from Polestar’s Gothenburg, Sweden headquarters.

The 1000km Great Race is set to provide yet more uncharted territory for the Volvo Polestar V8 Supercar technical package.

The S60 has proven to be among the fastest cars at each track this season, but has stumbled on several occasions with a variety of niggling mechanical issues.

Team boss Garry Rogers says his squad heads to Bathurst highly encouraged by the recent Sandown 500, where its two cars completed the journey without problems.

The 500km race was the longest consecutive mileage that either car had attempted thanks to the limited allocation of test days being primarily used for performance-orientated work.

“Sandown was a big positive for us,” Rogers told Speedcafe.com.

“We were perhaps a little disappointed with our speed but in terms of continuous mileage it was certainly encouraging.”

“For sure,” he added when asked if Volvo heads to the event as genuine contenders for victory.

“The cars are strong enough and fast enough and I think Alex and Scotty together are a good pairing.

“If we can do our job properly and thoroughly, we can win the race.”

Rogers’ Melbourne-based crew looks after routine maintenance on the Volvo engines before they are sent back to Polestar for full rebuilds.

The team has navigated through the first half of the season with a limited pool of engines, having just four in the country prior to the latest arrivals from Polestar.

While engine failure has only stopped McLaughlin in one race this year, Rogers admits that creating a full mileage schedule for components remains a work in progress.

“At this stage we’re still just trying to get a gist on everything,” he said.

“We still haven’t got enough knowledge to really say we need to life things to x mileage.

“We’re still building our engine pool as well.

“The thing that’s worked in our favour is that, other than Eastern Creek, we haven’t had a failure.

“That’s helped us manage what we’ve got quite well.”

With Polestar’s engine having reached the upper limit of V8 Supercars’ performance parity ceiling in its initial homologation specification, Rogers says that has been little scope for development.

“We’re currently looking for anywhere that we can improve on what we’ve already homologated,” said Rogers, stressing that the latest engines to arrive are in the same specification as their predecessors.

“To a certain extent now what we’ve homologated is what we’ve got, but as we gain more knowledge we’ll be able to refine it a little bit.”

Improving fuel economy and reliability have instead been the main focusses throughout the year, with both always crucial for the Pirtek Enduro Cup.

The Polestar unit was marginally thirstier than its Ford and Holden rivals at Sandown; a factor that will play against it at Bathurst if the Safety Cars fall awkwardly around the final pitstops.

The mandating of compulsory stops, which were ratified just days before the Sandown 500, should, however, help to limit the damage.

“We were slightly higher but I think it’s a matter of us being a bit conservative,” said Rogers of the fuel economy deficit at Sandown.

“We don’t want to run the engines too lean and bring about any issues that can be associated with that.

“We’re happy to maybe sacrifice a little bit of economy until we’ve got a really good handle on the whole package.”

The Bathurst 1000 is expected to be attended by incoming Volvo Car Australia managing director Kevin McCann, who will officially take over from incumbent Matt Braid on the Monday following the race.

VIDEO: Speedcafe TV’s Bathurst preview