In motorsport you’re guaranteed highs and lows, it’s a crazy roller coaster ride and some handle it better than others.
There is one person though that stands out for having it down to a T. Al McVean is in David’s ear during the most critical moments and together they are as cool as cats.
Before the silly season kicks off and in between crunching numbers, we sat down with the engineering ace for a quick chat…
We’ll first take a step back. Was 2017 better than expected?
AM: 2017 to me was a fantastic year where we continually raised our goals and expectations throughout the season and kept finding that those expectations were always being exceeded. To finish the season with front row regular qualifying positions at 4 of the last 5 events and a Bathurst win was very satisfying and shows just how much progress we had been able to make through the year. There is still plenty to be done, but have a solid direction in place and we are excited about what we can bring to the table in 2018.
So what’s to come in 2018?
AM: We are implementing the next stages of our development plan, which is multi faceted. The most obvious development for us in 2018 will be the switch to the ZB Commodore body shape. We made the decision very early in the process that we would be rolling out two cars in this specification as we could clearly see the potential that the new body shape possesses. Our data with the VF commodore shows it to possess a very sensitive aero package that makes it difficult to balance the car out in all phases of the corner. We are expecting the ZB commodore to be a step change in this area, and while the category carefully controls the overall downforce and drag potential of the vehicle to ensure parity, we expect to see improvements in the consistency of the aerodynamic platform. This should allow us to refine the car setup without having to manage the aero platform so carefully.
Sounds like an engineering dream. What about driver line-up?
AM: The next most obvious development will be the integration of Anton into the team. We were lucky to have Dale in our team last year to help us build the team up further and provide a steady hand at the wheel while we developed the car heavily. With his decision to move into another phase of his life, it opened up the opportunity to sign Anton, who we see as the next star of the future. We were extremely impressed by both his speed and technical feedback when we ran an Evaluation Test day for him in August. While he is a rookie in the main game, we are expecting his rate of progress to be very fast through the season and are very excited to see what he can become over the next few seasons.
That’s not all that’s going on though, is it?
AM: With Betty’s tremendous support we have also been able to make some capital investments into the business that will be a significant help to the race team moving forward. While we do not want to divulge these at this point we are expecting to improve our level of preparation for race events significantly with these items. Away from these big ticket items, we continue to push hard on development in all areas that the teams have freedom on and are likely to roll out the new season with developments throughout the front suspension, drivetrain and damping areas.
You’re here to stay for the next few years; can you tell us more?
AM: I feel I have found a home here, and just love the freedom the engineering department is given to pursue their ideas for improving performance. While we are a lower budget team, and are always monitoring our spend, we have never scrimped on the development budget and this is the ultimate scenario for an engineer. Furthermore, Betty and Daniel are very supportive team owners, while Dave is a very level headed driver which means the pressure to perform only feels like it comes from within yourself. This makes doing your job so much easier knowing you have that support behind you.