The Red Bull Holden Racing Team is expecting a tough weekend at the Penrite Oil Sandown 500 as it looks to come to terms with the ZB Commodore at the Melbourne circuit.
However, with the introduction of the Ford Mustang this year, and the aerodynamic changes made to the Commodore heading into the ITM Auckland SuperSprint in September, this weekend’s event poses a new challenge for Holden squads.
Since last year’s event a number of subtle aerodynamic changes have been made to the Commodore, including the addition of Gurney flaps to the rear wing and extension of the undertray.
Designed to increase downforce and therefore grip in high-speed corners, the trade-off is an increased drag coefficient which will hurt the Commodore down Sandown’s two long straights.
“Sandown will be an interesting one,” Triple Eight team manager Mark Dutton told Speedcafe.com.
“That drag’s going to hurt us, for sure. We know that. We’ve got to try and work out the best car we can.
“The changes have for sure increased the drag, quite a bit more than we expected, but it’s the price you pay.
“We were lacking a lot of downforce but with downforce comes the drag.
“It’s still a net better car than we had before the NZ changes, so we wouldn’t go backwards and take off those changes that came through for sure, but we will struggle with drag,” he added.
“We will have to work hard to see if we can get around it.”
Dutton though remains hopeful, pointing to the renewed enthusiasm within his team following a run of recent results.
The team was victorious in both races at the Vodafone Gold Coast 600, with Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes leading home Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander on Saturday, reversing the order on Sunday.
“With the improved car speed since New Zealand and the fact that we were in with the fight all Bathurst and now (Gold Coast), you definitely see the bounce in people’s step throughout the whole team,” Dutton said.
“It’s really good to see the hard work being rewarded.”
Track action for the Sandown 500 begins on Friday, with Supercars first out for an Additional Driver practice session at 1035 local time/AEDT.