Burgess: HRT resurgence far from finished
On the eve of his second season at the helm of the Holden Racing Team, Adrian Burgess has warned that there’s still plenty of unrealised potential at the factory squad.
The Burgess-led rebuild of the HRT was one of the major talking points last year following the Englishman’s high profile switch from arch rivals Triple Eight.
Starting with a surprise win for James Courtney on the streets of Adelaide, the team proved unable to match Triple Eight or fellow front-runners Prodrive over the season.
Courtney and team-mate Garth Tander ended the year sixth and ninth in points respectively, combining for three wins from the 38 race championship.
Burgess restructured the entire four-car Walkinshaw operation’s engineering staff ahead of 2014, before embarking on a major research and development push.
Further changes have been made to both the team and its equipment for the new year as the quest to return the HRT to its former glory continues.
Burgess has completed the move back to the traditional race engineer and data engineer combination on each car after previous management introduced a ‘car manager’ and ‘performance engineer’ format.
The change sees engineer Alistair McVean assume full duties on Courtney’s car, including in-session radio communications, with Rob Starr moving to an overarching ‘crew chief’ role across the two HRT entries.
Reporting a productive hit-out at the recent Sydney SuperTest, Burgess enthuses that there’s still plenty of room to improve the team’s package.
“When you do the amount of development that we did last year, you don’t hit the nail on the head straight away,” Burgess told Speedcafe.com.
“But what it does do is you work out the direction you need to go. Once you’ve identified that path, you’ve still got a lot of work to do to optimise it down that given path.
“Some of the things we tried in Sydney were the first parts optimising the direction that we know we need to go in.
“They’ve given us some positive results, but we know we’ve still got things to improve. There’s a lot of potential left.
“The development will still be very aggressive. We’re still catching up.
“We’ll see in Adelaide where we are, but no one is sitting back thinking things are sorted. We’ve got to keep pushing.”
The HRT will unveil its 2015 season livery in Adelaide on Wednesday morning; 25 years to the day since the Walkinshaw-owned team was founded.
The factory outfit won six drivers’ titles between 1996 and 2002 before its current drought set in.
Burgess expects to mount a strong championship challenge this year, but is not underestimating the difficulty of the task.
“We believe we’ve got the right drivers, the right engineers, the right mechanics… we’ve put the fundamental pieces of the jigsaw in place,” he said.
“Now we’ve just got to make sure we deliver a good performance day in, day out.
“You can have the best car and the best team, but it’s not necessarily going to bring you a championship.”