David & Goliath In V8 Supercars
By: Lance Hastie www.car.co.nz
Changes to the V8 Supercar rules in 2002 see the 'Old Boys Club' protecting their turf resulting in a difficult and demanding season ahead for Team Kiwi Racing.
The major rule change this season allows for the well-established teams to enter more than two cars under their team banner into the championship. Previously, it was set in the regulations to a maximum of two cars per team. This rule change has been pushed through by the AVESCO board, which is made up of 4 level one team members and is designed to put extra pressure on new teams being able to crack into the big time taking places away from the "Old Boys Club".
Being aware of the prominent progress that Team Kiwi Racing made in their first year of racing, the changes can now allow the scenario of the 'Old Boys Club' adding additional vehicles to their team to ensure their cars stays at the front of the field by using the other cars they have added to their teams as 'pawns' to block those behind them from passing them either on the race track or in championship points.
So close is the racing in V8 Supercars that opportunities to overtake are rare and blocking is a very simple and rarely detected tactic.
This makes Team Kiwi's task even more difficult in 2002, where the battle is now fought more in quantity of fundraising and numbers of team cars racing, rather than the performance on the racetrack.
Used to facing adversity, Team Kiwi now has the benefit of track data from last year's rounds to assist them in forging their place as long-term campaigners of competitive racing in the Australian V8 Supercar arena.
Team Owner David John says, "With the changes to the regulations it will be even sweeter when we finish ahead of the 'Old Boys Club' teams this year, as we will have beaten them at their own game." "However we are going to need the full support of the New Zealand public with merchandise purchases and to finalise a number of Kiwi initiatives to generate extra income for the team through our sponsors, in preparation for 2003. This is the only way Team Kiwi can raise additional funding to take on the Australian teams at the level they are playing at," John goes on to say.
Looking forward to the 2002 season, Jason Richards is hoping the opening round at the Clipsal 500 in Adelaide on the 17th of March sees a continuation of last year's success. "The success of last year by finishing in the top 25 has never been as significant as the opening round at Clipsal," he said.
13 cars, including 10 top-level cars the "Old Boys Club" cars have to pre-qualify for the race, especially those running more than two cars in the championship. Names in the list include teams such as Kmart/HRT - 5 cars, Perkins - 3 cars, Ford Motor Company/Briggs Motorsport - 4 cars and Shell - 3 cars, to name a few.
"With those potential championship-winning cars in the field, it would be almost a certain ticket straight home if we had to pre-qualify for one of those 9 spots. But with our start secure, we are really looking forward to a good race result and with the addition of some new development parts on the car we have the opportunity to reduce the technology gap between us and the top teams," said Richards. Using the 777 car at the Melbourne Grand Prix, Team Kiwi Racing will be using the opportunity to perform in front of the amassed Formula 1 fraternity and to fly the Kiwi flag.
"Also, with a new manufacturer tyre, if we can get on top of its handling before other teams get to grips with it, then we give ourselves a better chance of obtaining a good result at the Clipsal 500," added Richards.
This season is a simple David versus Goliath approach for Team Kiwi - an approach that they have successfully navigated before.