Red Bull looks to turn momentum in Darwin
Red Bull team manager Mark Dutton hopes that Jamie Whincup’s side of the garage can rebuild much needed confidence at Hidden Valley.
The six-time champion has scored just one top five finish from the six races across the recent Barbagallo and Winton weekends, slipping to fourth in points as a result.
Although team-mate Craig Lowndes also found Winton tough going, the veteran made a better fist of both events, recording three podiums among four top five finishes.
Still confident in the team’s base package, Dutton says that this year’s use of both tyre compounds at the Super Sprint events has increased the challenge of chassis tuning during race weekends.
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A difficult run through practice at Winton put the blowtorch on Whincup and his engineering group’s ability to make the right changes through the weekend.
While stressing the importance of preparation, Dutton believes that confidence and momentum play a significant role in that process.
“Momentum is a fantastic thing because when you’re not second guessing yourself you make better decisions,” Dutton told Speedcafe.com.
“Setting up a car is so intricate that you can easily talk yourself out of something.
“When you’ve got confidence and momentum you can go through all the options, make a clear decision and move on.
“When it’s not going smoothly you overthink things. With every set-up change you put in a car you can tell yourself 51 reasons why it’s going to work and 49 why it won’t.
“If you don’t have the momentum of success, that’s when you can easily jumble up those pros and cons.
“It’s easy to get wrong and that’s why there’s not 15 different winners from five race meetings.
“When you get a roll on, like (Chaz) Mostert with qualifying, it flows onto the next.
“The key is we need to show our depth and bounce back.
“We need to focus on rolling out of the truck better and making better decisions as the weekend unfolds.”
Like most circuits on the calendar, Whincup and Red Bull have a strong record at Hidden Valley, which includes winning both Saturday races at the venue last year.
Dutton cautions, however, that the Darwin climate makes Hidden Valley its own unique challenge within the championship.
“The difficult thing about Darwin, ok it’s been resurfaced which is an unknown, but it’s always a bit of an outlier because it’s usually so much hotter than everywhere else,” he said.
“Sometimes set-ups that have been successful there have been radically different and some have been a lot closer to other rounds.
“That’s the really difficult thing to make the choice. Where do you go? Do you develop down your path from Winton or go back to what’s worked in Darwin before?
“It’s a tough one so there’ll be a lot of focus on roll out set-ups and things like that.
“We’ll plan the sessions the best we can as well, but you can’t do that stuff with a simple run sheet.
“You need to have all the different streams along with what could happen.”
Lowndes sits second in points to in-form Prodrive ace Mark Winterbottom, ensuring that Red Bull still leads the Teams’ Championship after 12 races.