Rac­ing to help out

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Motorsport - Craig Lown­des

IMUSED to peo­ple pump­ing fuel into my race car, but I’ve been the one play­ing pit crew for some of my neigh­bours up here in flood­bound Kil­coy over the past few days.

was away in Mel­bourne with the fam­ily vis­it­ing Dad when the floods hit. We got back last Satur­day and ever since I’ve been clean­ing up the mess, help­ing neigh­bours trans­port ve­hi­cles over washed-out gul­lies and bridges and get­ting petrol. The town has al­most run out, with all the gen­er­a­tors run­ning to keep power go­ing. It’s been a sad start to the year. Some of the V8 Su­per­car driv­ers,

’ race teams and staff have helped with the Mates in Need Street Party on the Gold Coast to raise money for those af­fected, many of whom are avid V8 sup­port­ers.

It was great to see a lot of other sports­peo­ple con­tribut­ing man­power to the clean-up and keep­ing the morale up. But it was dev­as­tat­ing to hear Peter Cham­pion’s mu­seum of Brock race cars at Yep­poon is clos­ing be­cause of the floods’ ef­fect on the state’s tourism in­dus­try.

Peter’s done a won­der­ful job res­ur­rect­ing Brocky’s cars and his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ra­bilia, and dis­play­ing them in a sin­gle area. I spoke to him at Home­bush at the last round and he was think­ing of re­lo­cat­ing. I hope he does.

From a team per­spec­tive, the floods have had lit­tle ef­fect. We had no flood­wa­ters at the Banyo work­shop and min­i­mal dis­rup­tion to staff.

Our first out­ing is at East­ern Creek next week­end for the manda­tory test day for all V8 teams. It’s a track I love and it’s a real shame we don’t have it on our race cal­en­dar any­more.

But that makes it the per­fect neu­tral place for the teams to test and for the fans to have their first look at the cars’ new liv­ery and driver line-ups.

Usu­ally there’s a bit of change with driv­ers mov­ing be­tween teams in the off-sea­son, but this time there has been a team merry-go-round, mainly among race en­gi­neers.

Hap­pily, I still have Jeromy Moore as my race en­gi­neer and while teams such as DJR have been bro­ken up, ours is in­tact. We’ve even ex­panded, with Wil­liams F1 en­gi­neer John Rus­sell now head­ing the team.

Race en­gi­neers change teams with the driv­ers be­cause you de­velop an im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship and bond. I would want to take my en­gi­neer with me, as Valentino Rossi did with Jeremy Burgess. It’s like a mar­riage.

Most of my plan­ning is go­ing into the Bathurst 12 Hour race next month. We don’t get to test the Audi R8 race car be­fore the event, so we’ll go to Bathurst and try to get to know the car and its traits as quickly as pos­si­ble.

New-look In­gall: Rus­sell In­gall has a new liv­ery for the 2011 V8 Su­per­car sea­son. The En­forcer’s cam­paign fires up in Abu Dhabi on Fe­bru­ary 11-12.

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