Reynolds’ sauna set to be put to the test in Darwin
Friday 16th June, 2023 - 6:00am
Supercars drivers are bracing for the Darwin heat this weekend, with David Reynolds to find out if his off-season investment in a sauna has paid off.
The Penrite Racing driver revealed earlier this year that he had bought a sauna in order to train his body to deal with hot cabin temperatures, although that has hardly been an issue for the past three events.
Albert Park was cold, Wanneroo was mild, and the ambient was as low as four degrees Celsius during track activity at Symmons Plains, but there is no chance of such frigid weather this weekend at Hidden Valley.
While much of Australia shivers through winter, Darwin’s wet season is typified by overnight lows in the high-teens to low-twenties and maximums in the low-thirties.
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Furthermore, relative humidity today is forecast to drop only as low as 26 percent, in the middle of the day.
Reynolds is hoping the sauna time is worthwhile, although his cause will also be helped by the installation of helmet air cooling in the Grove Racing Mustangs.
“We’ve got some cool helmet air coming into our cars with Dawn, which we haven’t had all year, which is a big ticket item for the drivers,” the 2017 Bathurst 1000 winner told Speedcafe.
“It’s fine to cool your [race] suit but you’ve got to cool your head as well.
“That makes a big difference to your temperature as a driver, plus I’ve been hitting my sauna really hard.
“I don’t really know [how well-prepared the sauna has left him]; that’s gonna be interesting.
“It’s the first hot round we’ve been to; we’ll find out. Even if it just makes me the same as everyone else, that’s a big benefit.”
Encouragingly, though, Reynolds has increased his sauna endurance.
“When I first got it, I could barely spend 20 minutes at the hottest,” he noted.
“Now, I can sit there for 40, 45 [minutes], an hour, so I’ve done a lot.”
The Grove team is one of a handful which use the ChillOut refrigeration unit although, as it stands, that system is for suits only and a supplementary dry ice box is still required for cool helmet air.
Triple Eight Race Engineering is another, with its dry ice boxes now more optimised in installation compared to the hasty changes it was forced to make midway through the Newcastle 500 season-opener, when it was disqualified from Race 1 for illegal mounting in its Camaros.
Shane van Gisbergen has made no secret of his dislike of hot weather and while he says this weekend’s races are “not going to be pleasant”, he noted that they are a relatively short 100km each.
“Nothing’s really changed that much [since Newcastle], but thankfully they’re short races so hopefully it’s alright,” said the Red Bull Ampol Racing driver.
Supercars granted teams the option of additional insulation during the Newcastle 500 weekend, which Triple Eight Team Principal Jamie Whincup expects will prevent any major dramas.
“They made some changes over the Newcastle weekend which’ll certainly help with Darwin,” he told Speedcafe recently.
“So, the big items with the firewall and insulation around the exhaust and whatnot, that all got pushed through.
“It was all late to the party, but it eventually got there for the Sunday at Newcastle but we think we’re in a pretty good place now with heat.”
Tickford Racing’s Cameron Waters is embracing the conditions.
“It’s good to be back up in Darwin with the hot weather,” the Monster Energy Mustang driver told Speedcafe.
“I personally really like the hot weather so, keen to get out there, get the cool suit going.
“We’ve still got the ice bath so, as a driver, you’ve got to manage yourself a lot more at a hot round, but, being from Mildura, it’s bloody hot there in summer, so I’m keen.”
Practice 1 starts this morning at 10:45 local time/11:15 AEST.