The restrictions on in-season testing has been a hot topic in the V8 Supercars paddock this year. Nissan Motorsport’s Rick Kelly takes a closer look at what it all means.
This year has seen a shift in how V8 Supercars goes about testing, with Monday earlier this week being our one and only private test day at our home circuit, Winton.
The idea this year from the category, in the name of cost-saving, was to have slightly longer practice sessions at the race meetings, generally a total of two hours on the Friday, and less private test days –from two down to one.
What this was designed to do was to allow you to test out some different items at the race track ahead of that weekend’s competition, which would make it much more relevant than trying them out on your home circuit.
However, when it really comes down to it you don’t try too many big things on race weekends, because you don’t want to stray too far from your known base-line set-up with different bits that may or may not work.
So what this means is that we haven’t tried a lot of our new developments to their full extent, and given them the time and attention that they deserve.
With all that in mind, it was quite exciting for us to head to our test day, as it was the first time really since the V8 SuperTest at Sydney Motorsport Park back in February that we’ve managed to have some extended running.
For me, the season-opening test days were more about learning my new engineer George Commins and data engineer Giovanni Columbo, and for us to start working together as a team and really understand how each other goes about our respective jobs.
That weekend we really didn’t do a lot of in-depth tuning, it was more about getting prepared for the season.
So Monday was all about trying out some of the different things the engineering department have come up with over the past six months. And to ultimately arrive at some solutions to get some more pace out of the car.
At the same time, and it’s equally important, the test day was a big opportunity for David Russell and me to really hit our straps ahead of the endurance season… which is upon us now.
You start the day at 9am, and you’re finished at 5pm. It sounds like a long time, but the time just flies by; you always have a great list of things to get through, but you tend to only get through about 50 per cent of it.
Even if some of the items you try out don’t work, you now know that they won’t work, and you won’t bother wasting your time with them over a race weekend.
The test day was also a good chance for the pit crew guys to do some real life simulated endurance styled pit-stops.
We do a lot of tyre changing stops back in the workshop, but changing hot brake pads is something you really only can try out in the field.
It’s also a chance to do a couple of driver changes in pit-lane, which is helpful.
Camp Nissan Motorsport
After the test day we have now headed off for our annual pre-endurance season camp. It’s one of those rare occasions where we are able to get all of the drivers together in the one place at the one time.
The endurance season really is about working together, and getting the most out of each other, so you really have to be very, very close to your co-driver. You have to be on the same page, and be prepared to help each other out to achieve the end result.
After Winton we’ve headed off to our farm in Mildura for a couple of days.
We go through a lot of things on the fitness side of the equation, but we are also spending a lot of time together in the shack on the mighty Murray River.
We are cooking meals over the fire together, with each pairing taking turns to prepare the food, while also getting out into the bush and doing some nice long fitness sessions.
I think as a group we get a lot from that.
We do similar activities with the entire team when we get the chance as well; we take them out of their normal environment and spend some time together away from the race track.
During race weekends, it is always a very tense environment for the squad, and we spend a lot of time there, so for us it’s important to do these bonding activities.