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Castrol Edge Townsville 400 Wrap Up

Another fantastic Townsville race has been run and won in the North of Queensland. Again the organisers put on an immaculate show and the crowds responded with a reported 150,000 plus over the three days. Its definitely a shot in the arm for V8 Supercars as a couple of the previous events have probably been lacking a bit in numbers but it just goes to show the key events are still drawing in the crowds.

Now I am not going to bore you with a lap by lap summary of the races because hopefully you would have seen it already on the excellent Fox Sports coverage but I will go through some of the background stories of which there were many and quite interesting.

TRIPLE 8 – I must admit it seemed all we spoke about on the Fox Sports panel was Triple 8 and their lack of car speed, not only over the weekend but in previous races. I thought this was one event going on previous history, especially from Whincup, that they would shine, but right from the first practice session they seemed to have no car speed with the drivers visibly over driving the car to compensate. There was a change of engineers for Jamie Whincup with Mark Dutton back on the “tools” which is quite a big move to have an engineering swap half way through the season.

I am sure there is every “Eddie the expert” having an opinion as to why the team is where it is at and I will throw mine into the ring. As far as Lowndes goes, what seemed to hinder him was some average decisions made for qualifying with only using the one set of tyres on Saturday and then for some reason doing the same thing for Sunday when they had two green sets available to them. It was a bit bazaar and I am sure when they look back on it they would have done it differently, so that put Lowndes behind the 8 ball straight away. He did make an impressive come back to 9th in Sunday’s race which will help his Championship cause. It was only Whincup’s qualifying performance that helped his side of the garage get a couple of top 10 results. It certainly wasn’t car speed that got him to that position.

So my theory on all of this is that going on their times, they haven’t made much progress from 12 months ago at the same event where I think the top couple of teams have stepped it up slightly and many of the others are far closer. So basically throwing a few more cars in between T8 and the top guys. This game constantly evolves and I’m all for consistency but sometimes you have got to move development on at a bit faster pace to keep ahead of the game. Saying all this, you are talking about a team that gave Jamie Whincup 6 Championships and helped Craig Lowndes on his way to 100 race wins so when you have been on top for that long there is only one way to go. In any sport a team doesn’t stay Top Dog forever so we cant be too critical of what’s been an unbelievable run.

PRO-DRIVE – definitely a team that has been the talk of the town with fantastic consistency from every type of circuit. It’s no surprise to me that they are performing so well because we have to remember that they have had great car speed for the last few years, it hasn’t just come overnight, but the difference is back then the amount of mistakes that were made in either strategy, pit stops or reliability and the odd driver error, cost them wins and possible Championships. The turn around has come from learning from their mistakes and not making any or very few. Sometimes it’s not all about car speed, which they do have in abundance, but they have been calling the right shots during the race and I believe all three of their drivers are extracting the utmost out of the equipment that they have, with minimal mistakes. It almost reminds me of back in the SBR days when they won their three championships in a row, of which one was mine, that when you are on a roll like they are and you just pull the car out of the truck, consistently in the top 5 through practice and qualifying and more times than not on the podium, at that point, that’s when the Championships start flowing. I know there has been some mutterings of the aero package of the new FGX Falcon being superior but I certainly don’t believe that’s the case. There has been challenges from other makes of cars, especially Commodores, which have mainly come from the BJR side of the fence and not the two main factory teams so in a nut shell, they are just doing a better job.

HRT – every time I am looking at the monitor from the Fox Studios during practice sessions and I see the visual expressions when they have the in-car camera on, either Tander or Courtney’s car I can see their frustration. Seems to me that they are always a day behind with set up and finally get it right by Sunday at which stage the horse has already bolted. The game is way too close for inconsistences and this is really hurting them in the Championship hunt. From what looked like it was going to be a good year after the first round in Adelaide, I just get that sense that it is starting to slip away and I think the drivers are feeling that as well. Courtney’s drive on Sunday was what we expect of James with some great passing and the best use of the soft tyre of any of the drivers out there. I must admit there was one hairy stage when he came up behind Garth and I thought “this was going to end in tears” but after a little bit of “cop this buddy” they both come out with a very good effort scoring a 2nd and 4th result. Garth drove his usually ultra aggressive self in the two races. If any of the drivers in the back half of the V8 field or indeed any other category, wants to learn anything about racing, they should maybe stop buggering around on social media and watch some replays of his first few laps at the start of a race. Garth easily makes up more positions than any other driver in the field and his passes that he puts on people are so solid and well executed without hesitation its great to watch and text book for real racing. A bit like Triple 8, I think it is the drivers that are keeping them in the game over car speed.

Honorable mentions must go to BJR and Fabian Coulthard. They starred in Saturday’s race with a podium and good solid car speed. Might have been the same for Sunday except for a drive through for a pit stop infringement, which I have always found ridiculous but I find a lot of things ridiculous about some of the regulations. Fabian is still well and truly in the fight for the championship so they just have to re-group and keep eyes forward.

On the subject of Fabian, he is definitely a wanted man up and down pit lane for 2016. He hasn’t signed a deal yet with BJR even though they desperately want him to. It’s certainly a nice position to be in and one I don’t think he has experienced before in his career after bouncing around a bit from team to team. So where is there opportunities? One possible scenario would be at DJR Team Penske. There still hasn’t been confirmation there for a driver for next year as far as I am aware and if they do go to two cars which some are reporting, it could very well be a nice long term future home. If David Reynolds isn’t signed at Pro Drive could there be a possibility there? And if that does happen, is BJR a perfect fit for David Reynolds, effectively just doing a swap? Not forgetting the vacated seat of the Tekno Team which also will be a very solid competitive option. As another option which seemed to come to light from some pit gossip at the weekend was a possibility of the second Volvo GRM seat which would be fantastic for Scott Mclaughlin to have a team mate that would push him and the team hard. Make no mistake BJR would be doing everything in their power to keep him but I think the dollar sign will dictate that.

On the subject of Scott McLaughlin, I really felt for him over the weekend with mechanical issues again hampering good results. His shoot out lap on Sunday in the top ten was great to watch and something he really enjoys. I don’t know what s going on down in that garage this year. It just seems really odd after such a strong 2014 that all these issues are coming up now when really this year should have been the year to have a run at the Championship.

V8 Supercars announced the outlines for 2017 and beyond which was an interesting read. Its basically outlining what cars and configurations will be eligible from that year into the future. The biggest change being the introduction of turbo charged engines. Being a traditionalist I am still struggling a bit with the concept but I suppose being someone that is involved in the Motorsport and motor industry in general, times are changing. Just look at they way we view road cars now and buying habits have changed so much, especially with smaller capacity turbo charged engines being more common amongst every make, model, shape and size. Make no mistake, it’s going to be a challenge keeping parity between all the different configurations of engines and I certainly hope V8 supercars put a lot of time, resource and effort in making sure they control this thoroughly. Time will tell I suppose but it certainly will be an interesting period that’s for sure.

Well that wraps Round 6. Round 7 will be at Ipswich the famous paperclip where I am sure that will be one place that will throw up some curve balls. Be pretty difficult to predict a winner there and could be one of those rounds where a random will get up.

Cheers for now.

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Hidden Valley Race Round Up – My View in front of the Camera

Hidden Valley as usual turned on another great event. I put this race on the “must do for Motorsport Fans” list up there with Townsville, Adelaide and Bathurst. The whole Town and Territory get behind the event and it shows with the enthusiasm of the locals as well as the many thousands of tourists that go there each year.

The commitment from the organizers carried on with a full resurface of the 2.87 km track. Apart from improving the aesthetic appeal of the layout, what it did produce was some of the best racing that we have seen so far this year, especially the short Supersprint races on Saturday which up ‘til now have basically been a bit of a dud. With the grip levels much higher than previous years and the confidence of the drivers to have a go, there was some true hard & fast passing and side by side racing, even up to three and four wide in certain instances. It was so good to sit there and watch the whole field having a big go and throwing caution to the wind, which entertained both the huge live and television audience.

There was a couple that got hard done by from some of the maneuvers, notably Fabain Coulthard, who got sent on the start of both Saturday races, but overall the rest of it was just good hard racing. The Driving Standards Observer definitely had a long list that night, but I was pleased to see that all the penalties were fair and just, apart from Rick Kelly getting a drive through when Whincup only got 25 points for virtually exactly the same sort of incident. I would much prefer to see points penalties than drive throughs unless it is absolutely blatant.

Before I go much further, V8 Supercars have to make a priority with their event de-brief to analyze and understand why all of a sudden the Saturday racing was so good. There is one word for it “GRIP”. A race driver likes nothing more than when a tyre or circuit has a tremendous amount of grip. What this does is increase confidence to brake later, lean on the car more in the middle of the corner and also accelerate harder coming off. When you have increased grip levels, you can feel the car better and it also widens up the circuit so it’s not so single file, hence making more overtaking opportunities. I remember last year when Winton did the botch track repairs and after the first session it spread a “glue like” substance all over the track that made the grip level so high you thought you were driving a Formula One car. The smiles on all the driver’s faces after they had driven on it said it all. It was the same after the first practice sessions in Darwin where all the drivers commented on how much better it was to drive on the new gripier surface.

Now don’t suddenly think this is going to happen at all the other circuits but it can be achieved. I have been shouting out behind the scenes for some time for a softer, gripier and better tyre. The current control tyre is way too hard and at the very least, the soft should be the standard with an even softer variance under that. I doubt whether you would get too many drivers that would disagree with this concept. Not anyone smart anyway.

The other factor that spiked up the races on Saturday was the multiple safety cars over the two races. Keeping the field bunched up definitely helped the battles as the cars were so close in pace from first to last. I know this is out of the control of the Race Officials, but I can tell you, compared to Sunday’s race where a safety car mid way through would have made a huge difference, we might have to start thinking how we can achieve it. I am definitely not a fan of manipulated racing but what I have seen in Nascar where they throw the odd competition yellow has a lot of credit. Remember it’s about entertainment.

Speaking of that, considering there was no safety cars in Sunday’s race, I still think it was a good race with many strategies really playing their part. I believe the three guys on that podium had genuine car speed and deserved to be there. I was very pleased for David Reynolds to finally get that first solo win on the board. There was a bit of chat afterwards about cutting through the circuit when he had his little excursion off Turn 5, but at the end of the day he did everything to the rule book. He had the fastest car in that race and controlled the race beautifully so in my opinion, he deserved the win.

Mostert continues to impress me with his consistent qualifying form and consistent race form. I truly believe if he keeps this up, he will be a championship contender this year.

I have to say, unless something really turns around for Jamie Whincup, the boy could be struggling to get his 7th Championship. Why I say that is the current top 5 cars in the championship as we speak I believe are super strong and just seem to be way more consistent.

Of course one of the biggest stories was Lowndes clocking up the 100 wins on Saturday. During our interview with him in the Fox studio you could really feel the emotion that he had in achieving such a great milestone. It was fitting that he acknowledged his current team as well as all previous ones that helped him achieve that unbelievable record. He is definitely the crowd favorite and rightly so. As I have mentioned in previous interviews, I believe he is the most complete driver of our era, working just as hard off the track as on. He is one of the best ambassadors for V8 Supercars since Peter Brock.

So that’s a wrap. Off to Townsville next. Another great event and one of my favorites where I think we are going to see a bounce back from some of our street fighters like HRT and Tekno so don’t think ProDrive will have it all their own way this time.

Cheers

Death Roads

Death-Road

Dramatic headline, but after coming out of a long weekend where there were 15 confirmed deaths on Australian roads, that’s exactly what it is. I shudder every time I turn the news on after a long weekend to see and hear all the horrific accidents that have happened in each state over such a short period of time. It’s not always the fault of the people that unfortunately get killed, but the fact is, someone caused the accident through their own neglect, not paying attention or plain lack of experience.

The message clearly isn’t getting through so I decided to look into it a little deeper and the results were disturbing. As a nation, driving habits and standards are actually getting worse over the years, not better. The statistics say actual road toll deaths are less year on year, but physical accidents are on the rise. So again, after researching further, if there are more accidents throughout the nation, but less deaths, it must suggest that it’s the equipment that we are using that is saving lives, not that we are better drivers.

My next contact to substantiate these findings was Russell White from Driver Safety Australia who is a recognised authority on Road Safety through his great work with Fatality Free Friday and a regular go to person for Current Affair programs. I asked him what the stats were regarding accidents – deaths vs injuries.

Russell stated that “the issue of road safety represents a number of challenges and dealing with it requires consistency and innovation.”

The Australian road toll in 1970 was 3789 people. Since that time, the road toll has steadily decreased. This is due to a number of engineering and law enforcement interventions.

From the engineering side, we saw the introduction of the Australian design rules, vehicle safety systems such as anti-lock brakes, traction control and airbags as well as better occupant protection and 5 star vehicle safety ratings. We have also seen significant improvements in our road network and enhanced road design.

Better trauma response and medical treatment have also played a major role in reducing the number of road fatalities.

From an enforcement standpoint, the introduction of random breath testing, improved speed detection and red light cameras have all contributed to the continual decrease in the road toll.”

Mr White also stated that “in 2014, the nation’s road toll was 1153, this was the lowest figure achieved since 1945. Whilst these interventions have clearly enhanced reductions in fatality rates, we have still yet to make any significant reduction in the number of serious crashes occurring.

It is important to remember that for every fatality, at least 20 to 30 people are seriously injured or hospitalised. Whilst we have made significant improvements to fatality rates, it is clear that the opposite is happening in terms of people being seriously injured.

Mr White detailed that “while it is important to continue to focus on achieving better roads, enhanced traffic enforcement and safer vehicles, we also need to take steps to address the human factors to help prevent crashes occurring in the first place.”

“The next great improvement in road safety will come from reducing crashes and injuries.”

The road safety industry must now focus on improving community awareness, road user attitude and better driver education and training”

Table 23 – Deaths by jurisdiction 1984 – 2013

Australia

1984 2,822
1985 2,941
1986 2,888
1987 2,772
1988 2,887
1989 2,800
1990 2,331
1991 2,113
1992 1,974
1993 1,953
Ave. trend change p.a. (%) -4.9
1994 1,928
1995 2,017
1996 1,970
1997 1,767
1998 1,755
1999 1,764
2000 1,817
2001 1,737
2002 1,715
2003 1,621
Ave. trend change p.a. (%) -1.9
2004 1,583
2005 1,627
2006 1,598
2007 1,603
2008 1,437
2009 1,491
2010 1,353
2011 1,277
2012 1,299
2013 1,193
Ave. trend change p.a. (%) -3.4

Rise in serious road injuries

The rate of people seriously injured due to road traffic crashes has risen according to reports released today by the Australian Institute of health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, Trends in serious injury due to land transport accidents, Australia 2000-01 to 2008-09, shows that over the 9-year period, the rate of people seriously injured due to road traffic crashes increased from 138.3 to 156.7 per 100,000 people.

Over one-quarter of those seriously injured due to road traffic crashes sustained life-threatening injuries. ‘These cases increased by an average of 1.7% per year,’ said AIHW spokesman Professor James Harrison. ‘Rates rose more steeply for cases involving motorcyclists (6.8%) and pedal cyclists (6.9%). The rise was still sharper for cases involving males aged 45–64 years as motorcyclists (14.7%) and pedal cyclists (14.0%).’

People living in remote areas recorded the highest average annual increase in the rate of life-threatening injury due to road traffic crashes (5.8%), but there were small increases for all areas.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.
Canberra, 18 June 2012

I have attached a video that I found from the American Institute IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) who ran a very interesting test with a 1959 Chevrolet Belair crash tested into 2009 Chevrolet Malibu. Normally you would think the big, all steel, full chassis Belair would be no match to the much smaller Malibu – however it’s a staggering outcome to see the technology with crumple zones, airbags and other modern crash structures and how they have made the cars so much safer. Further still since the 2009 model Malibu significant improvements have been in car safety technology. Watch the video below.

This leads to my argument that the cars and the roads have improved the road toll over the last 30 years and NOT the driving standards. In actual fact, with the increase in crash and injury rates, it shows that our driving standards are worse!

In my opinion, what has to be focused on from state and federal levels is driver education and driver training in general. It is way too easy to obtain a licence and there is not enough experience attached to that bit of paper that gives us the right to drive on the roads. The deaths and injuries have to stop!

Russell-Ingall-Fox-Sports-V8-Supercars

Welcome To My Official Website

Russell-Ingall-Fox-Sports-V8-Supercars

Welcome to my official website.

Up until now, most of my websites have been linked with the teams I have been racing for over the years.

With my change from finishing up full time racing in V8 Supercars last year to a position with Fox Sports, I have had time to create this website and its content. The look and feel of the site is much like most others, the point of difference with this is one is I actually want it to be informative and functional.

I am introducing things like my regular car test segments and will be bringing you news on all things to do with motorsport and inside information that is normally not shared outside the inner circle of motorsport and the motor industry.

As always and what I am well known for, it will be totally unbiased and I am not sure too many other websites can claim that – especially in motorsport.

I certainly hope you enjoy the ride and I’ll be putting out alerts on social media with any new stories on the site.