Holdsworth clocks ‘valuable’ laps with Red Bull
Lee Holdsworth says he can take valuable lessons from testing with Red Bull at Ipswich, despite struggling to draw direct comparisons with his own Team 18 Holden.
Holdsworth and engineer Jason Bush joined Triple Eight’s test as part of Team 18’s customer relationship with the squad, cutting 16 laps in Jamie Whincup’s entry during the mid-afternoon.
The move came after Whincup and his engineer David Cauchi tested Holdsworth’s car at Winton in the lead-up to the recent race meeting at the Victorian venue.
Team 18’s deal with Triple Eight sees Holdsworth able to access data and set-ups from the three-car team, as well as undertaking post-event teleconference debriefs with manager Mark Dutton and technical director Ludo Lacroix.
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Holdsworth’s car, however, retains the ‘Mk IV’ Triple Eight front-upright package, which is two generations behind that seen in the Red Bull and TeamVortex entries.
Initially struggling this season while trying to closely follow Triple Eight’s set-ups, Holdsworth and Bush have made progress focussing on their own car across recent events.
Although hoping to get a clear read on the affects of the mechanical differences between the cars from today’s running, Holdsworth says that it was difficult to make direct comparisons.
A dirty track as the result of recent heavy rains at Ipswich threw an extra curveball at teams this morning, contributing to a challenging day for Whincup.
“Without back-to-backing them directly it’s very difficult to say if the car is any different to mine,” Holdsworth told Speedcafe.com.
“Jamie wasn’t happy with his balance this morning and they were working very hard at improving it.
“They had a program to stick by and unfortunately when I jumped in it wasn’t at a point where they were happy with the balance.
“It had a lot of front grip, but whether or not it was the track conditions or the imbalance they had in the car I’m not too sure.
“It certainly feels different to the car I’ve got at the moment, but if that’s a good or bad thing I don’t know.”
Holdsworth and Bush both joined the new Team 18 from Walkinshaw Racing and are still adjusting to the task of tuning a Triple Eight car.
The driver says having another opportunity to work with Whincup and Cauchi today affirmed that they are making the most of the tuning tools available.
“It was really valuable to work with Triple Eight and see the way that they go about changing the balance in the car,” he said.
“Bushy and I are still very unfamiliar with our car and still need to gain knowledge of how to tune it.
“But in the short space of time we’ve had I think we’re on the same page as Triple Eight with the changes that we make.
“Just to go out there and reconfirm what we do by seeing the way go about their business was very valuable.”
Red Bull team manager Mark Dutton echoed Holdsworth’s sentiments on the learning process.
“How our team operates is maybe different to how they operate, so you are always learning even just watching,” Dutton told Speedcafe.com.
“It was positive to have them here and good on Cauchi for finding time in his schedule (for Holdsworth to drive the car).
“Lee was respectful by braking a bit earlier when driving someone else’s car, but his times appeared to be on the pace and consistent which was good.”
Holdsworth sits 19th in the standings after scoring just two top 10 finishes from the opening 11 races but is confident of a strong showing in Darwin thanks to recent progress.
“We’ve had some good runs in qualifying but haven’t been able to back it up with race speed and consistency,” he said.
“We made inroads in Perth and got right on top of it at Winton.
“Obviously the grip level in Darwin is very similar to Winton so we expect to have a good car there.”