ANDREW VAN LEEUWEN JOURNALIST – PORTFOLIO
E H T N E H W E M O C Z N I SA N I G N I H C R MA In a time when Spanairds were supposed to race motorcycles, Carlos Sainz became one of the greatest rally drivers ever. And even two decades after his first World Rally Championship, El Matador is still a force to be reckoned with. He spoke to ANDREW VAN LEEUWEN
REPRODUCED FROM ISSUE #401 OF AUSTRALIAN MOTORSPORT NEWS – NOVEMBER 2010
HIS year, a familiar name has graced Asia’s Formula BMW Pacific Series – Carlos Sainz Junior. It’s no coincidence; Sainz MkII is the son of the two-time World Rally Champion of the same name, one of Spain’s most recognisable fourwheeled exports. From the outside, it looks like son has rejected father’s career path, choosing race tracks over special stages. But in reality, Sainz himself was once one of Spain’s most promising young circuit racers. The year was 1984, and Sainz had come from a background of racing Renault hatchbacks in Spain, before racing at the famous Formula Ford Festival in Malboro colours in ‘83. He was scrambling for cash to run a Formula Ford 2000 program in England, with plans to move to Formula 3 the year after. But Sainz was also a regional rally champion in Spain, and it was in this discipline that the big career break came along. “Basically, when I started driving I was doing both things at the same time,” he says. “I was racing in the Renault 5 Cup in Spain, and I was doing the national championship in rally. For a few years I was doing both, rallying and circuit racing, and then I won the Renault 5 championship, and the regional championship in rallying for my area, the Madrid area. “After that I was looking for money to go and race in England, because in Spain we didn’t have any good circuit racing championships. I was looking at Formula 3 in England, but, at the same time, I got an offer to drive the Catalunya Rally in a factory car from General Motors, the Opel Manta 400. “I took the offer straight away, and that more or less took my career into rallying.” The rest, as they say, is history. After returning to rallying Renaults in Spain, Sainz made more WRC appearances in 1987 and ’88, this time in Ford Sierras. In 1989 he joined Toyota Team Europe, winning two World Rally Championships (1990 and 1992). After that he drove for four other factory teams, rallying famous cars such as the Repsol Lancia Intergale, the 555 Subaru WRX, the Repsol Ford Escort, the Martini Ford Focus, and the Total Citroen Xsara. In 196 World Championship rallies, he notched up 26 wins, 756 fastest stages, and scored 1242 points. It was a hell of a career. That Sainz even found himself at a crossroads between circuit racing and rallying is unique for a Spaniard. Spain has fostered a long, proud history of motorcycle champions, but its successful heritage on four wheels is still young, and has been mostly developed by first Sainz, and then Fernando Alonso. Before these two champions, it was bikes or bust. So, when Sainz won the 1990 1000 Lakes Rally in Finland, it was a shock. He was the first non-Scandinavian driver to ever win that event, and while the locals must have known their extraordinary record would one day be broken, few would have predicted it would be done by a Spaniard. “I think it was great,” Sainz remembers. “It was one of my best drives, and the people
Career One: Sainz has done everything from Formula Ford 2000, bottom, to driving a Formula 1 car, top. Other highlights include massive success in the famous GT4 ST185 Celica, bottom left, the broken Corolla windscreen, above, and being locked on a record 23 WRC round wins with Tommi Makinen, Juha Kankunen and Colin McRae in 2001, below.
of Finland were shocked to see a Spaniard driver winning on their roads. They couldn’t believe a driver that didn’t come from that area could win that rally. “I really enjoyed not only that rally, but always when I was driving in Finland. I had some good results in Finland after that.” While Finland stands out in Sainz’s memory as a favourite event, it’s harder to draw him on the cars and drivers that formed the highlights of his illustrious career. “I don’t think I can do that correctly. The cars have been improving over many years, so it’s hard to say. Of course, I have cars that I enjoyed more, and cars that I was a little bit less confident in. “Obviously, the cars in which I won the World Rally Championships I had a lot of confidence, but later on, the cars were actually better. With every car you can pick something you liked, and something you didn’t. You can never have the perfect car, you can always improve a little bit. “As for drivers, it’s also difficult to say. It depended what year, because the drivers have to depend on their car. Some drivers were very strong with one car, and then in a different car were not so strong. “But I was around for many years, and I had some great fights, and made some good friends, starting with Juha Kankunen, Didier Auriol, Colin McRae, Tommi Makinen, Richard Burns, Sebastien Loeb, Marcus Gronholm. I have driven against all of these guys, and they are very good drivers. At times, there were six or eight of us fighting to win rallies, and you never knew who could win. “I was very lucky to drive, professionally, in the World Rally Championship. Everything I could have wished for when I was young, like winning the World Rally Championship, winning the Dakar, I’ve been able to do. So I’m a very lucky one.” As with any great sportsperson, the highlights have been punctuated with lowlights. For Sainz, his lowlight is glaringly obvious – Great Britain 1998. Most rally fans will know the story, but if not, here’s what happened; Sainz and Makinen went into the season finale neckand-neck in the fight for the title, with Makinen needing to finish sixth or higher to seal his third consecutive title. But after struggling for pace on the early stages of the event, Makinen made a mistake on SS5 at Milbrook, tagging a barrier and destroying his Mitsubishi’s rear suspension. He kept going, and was even passed by Sainz on the stage, but with no rear right wheel, the British police wouldn’t let Makinen onto the following transport stage back to service. His rally was over, and a third title for the Sainz/Toyota combination looked inevitable, with just fourth place required. But this is rallying, and things
change very quickly. Having slipped and slid his way through the foggy Welsh forests, Sainz got to within 300 metres – literally – of the finish of the final stage, where he would have finished fourth and won the title. But an electrical fault cut his Corolla’s engine, leaving Sainz stranded painfully close. While Sainz put out the flames flickering from within the Corolla’s engine bay, his teammate Luis Moya threw his helmet through the car’s back window in a clear sign of frustration. Makinen was up to three World Championships, while Sainz remained stuck on two. “For sure it was a very difficult moment,” he says. “The fact that I had already won two championships made the situation a little bit easier, but I will never forget that moment. “But I think it made me stronger, in my head and my mind. It’s just something that can happen, and at the end of the day we are talking about sports, and there are things that are much more important in life. As I said to you I was already champion, so I couldn’t complain too much.” The years have clearly softened Sainz’s stance on GB 1998, but he does admit that he started the ‘99 season more fired up and focused then ever before. “I was very upset … for a few days! But the next rally was Monte Carlo, and I won straight away, so the best thing to do is to keep racing. “To me, life works like this; you can do the best you can, and then the mechanics of the sport get in your way, and something can happen. You can only try your best, work hard, and then there is a factor that is out of your hands. It made me think in a different way.” ainz retired from regular WRC competition SSpanish in 2005, but rather than laze around in a villa, he took on a new challenge –
Field of Dreams: Sainz is a keen football (soccer, that is) supporter, and is a keen player. Here he is laying a perfect tackle on Giancarlo Fisichella in Monaco back in 2004.
the Dakar Rally. Having joined Volkswagen’s rally raid program in 2006, Sainz’s new endeavour bore the ultimate fruit earlier this year, when he added a Dakar win to his career stats. By that stage, Sainz had already won the Cross Country Rally World Cup (2007), the Central European Rally (2008), the Silk Way Rally (2009), and gone very close to winning the ’09 running of the Dakar. Oh, and he also won the 2010 running of the Silk Way in Russia, just days after speaking to Motorsport News. But the while the jump from a nimble World Rally Car on relatively short special stages to a diesel-powered raider charging through the desert has been made look easy by Sainz, he is quick to point out the grueling events are anything but. “One thing I can tell you is that to win the Dakar is not easy,” he says. “Everything has to happen exactly
the co-driver, is very important. It’s a long race, 14 days, so everything has to be perfect. It’s a real race for men. “You cannot compare Dakar to a World Rally. They are different disciplines. Put it this way; to win a World Rally round is difficult, to win a World Championship is really difficult, and to win the Dakar is also really difficult.” There’s every chance that the Volkswagen/ Dakar program will soak up the twilight of Sainz’s career, although the man nearing 50 years of age laughs at the mere mention of retirement: “I’ll keep enjoying doing the Dakar, and that is a lot of commitment. It’s always good to have a target, because that keeps you alive, that keeps you awake. I’ll let you know when I decide to stop!” But when Sainz does eventually hang up his helmet, it’s becoming increasingly likely that the name will live on in the sport, through the aforementioned Sainz Jr. At 16, Sainz Jr is part of Red Bull’s junior program, and is currently running a shared program between Formula BMW series in Asia and Europe. He has won races in both, and like his father at a similar age, is showing plenty of promise in an open-wheeler. But unlike his father, it seems he may stay put in circuit racing, instead of switching to rallying. “Well, I suppose after many years of karting, the natural way is to jump into circuit racing. He’s 16 now, and he is running in the top three. If he decides to race on circuits, if I like it or I don’t, I have to support him!” But the real question is; can he be as good as his old man? “Well he’s sticking to circuits, so you can’t compare. But I do think he can be very, very good.”
Junior Formula: Sainz Jr has chosen circuit racing over rallying, and so far, his Formula BMW career is going gangbusters.
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DANIEL RICCIARDO: BECOMING A GRAND PRIX DRIVER
WE ALL KNEW THAT WEST AUSSIE DANIEL RICCIARDO WAS KNOCKING ON THE DOOR OF FORMULA 1, BUT THE HISPANIA RACING TEAM OPENED THE DOOR QUICKER THAN ANYONE EXPECTED. IN THE WAKE OF HIS BRITISH GRAND PRIX DEBUT, RICCIARDO TALKED ANDREW VAN LEEUWEN THROUGH HIS F1 DEBUT, AND REVEALED WHAT HE NEEDS TO GET OUT OF THE REST OF 2011
REPRODUCED FROM ISSUE #410 OF AUSTRALIAN MOTORSPORT NEWS – AUGUST 2011
WEDNESDAY AND THURSDAY
“IT MAY BE THE ONLY OPPORTUNITY I EVER GET, SO I WANTED TO DON’T EVER WANT TO SIT THERE AND WONDER WHAT COULD HA SITTING BACK THINKING THAT AT THE END OF THE YEAR.” 12
O MAKE SURE I TOOK IT. I AVE BEEN. I DON’T WANT TO BE www.mnews.com.au
WAS surprised that I didn’t find that extra bit in qualifying. Not to be too ... confident, but I was a little bit quicker than Tonio in practice, so I expected it to be closer in qualifying, if not quicker. When he did me by half a second in qualifying on the first set of tyres, I thought ‘okay ...’” That was the point during the British Grand Prix weekend when Daniel Ricciardo realised that Formula 1 was a whole new ball game to what he was used to. British Formula 3, Formula Renault 3.5 are very competitive championships. But Formula 1 is Formula 1, and the rude shock Ricciardo got in qualifying drove that message home very hard. Let’s back-track a little bit to give this scenario some context. In case you’ve been stranded on Mars for the last four weeks, here’s the news; Australian has a new Formula 1 driver. While he expected to spend 2011 happily racing in Formula Renault 3.5 and doing Free Practice 1 duties for Toro Rosso, Red Bull grabbed Ricciardo by the OMP collar a week before the British Grand Prix and dropped him straight into the deep end, as a race driver with Hispania Racing Team. “From my side it was a huge surprise,” recalls Ricciardo. “I basically got a call from Dr [Helmut] Marko the week after Valencia, and he broke it down for me quickly and simply, as he does. That was it, basically. He sent me the contacts, and we went from there. “Whether the deal was in the making for a week, or two months, I have no idea, but I have the feeling it was fairly last-minute. “The night of the announcement, I slept pretty well! It was a bit of a broken sleep, I’ll admit that, but you know, I still managed five or six hours, and that’s pretty solid for me. It certainly wasn’t the deepest sleep I’ve ever had. “This is the biggest thing that’s happened in my career, so there was a split second where I thought ‘is this the right move for me?’ But at the same time, it’s Formula 1 and, you don’t know, it may be the only opportunity I ever get, so I wanted to make sure I took it. I don’t ever want to sit there and wonder what could have been. I don’t want to be sitting back thinking that at the end of the year. “So it was basically a big opportunity and I was very excited to hear it. I knew pretty much straight away I had to take it with both hands. And I also knew it would be a steep learning curve, and Silverstone proved that to me. But I’m confident we can be doing some good stuff for the rest of the season.” It sounds like a dream come true, and that’s how Ricciardo described it at the official announcement. But of course, as wonderful as the opportunity was, and is, it’s not all peaches and cream. Let’s not forget that the Hispania Racing Team missed the first two practice sessions at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix because they hadn’t finished building their cars. When they got on track at Albert Park, neither driver made the 107 percent cut to qualify for the race. Even in Minardi’s final years, they were never that disorganised. Since then, HRT has lifted its game significantly. Making the 107 percent isn’t an issue any more, and Tonio Liuzzi has even given the guys at Virgin a bit of a scare a few times this year. But still, HRT is the worst team in Formula 1, and to call their car a dog is probably cruel to the world’s canine population. So here was Daniel Ricciardo, a 22year-old guy, facing the prospect of making his Formula 1 race debut, in a car of unquestionable crappiness, without any track time before Friday morning’s Free Practice 1. Oh, and all of this happened less than a week after a Formula Renault 3.5 round in Budapest, Hungary. That’s not a steep learning curve Daniel, it’s a learning Everest. “I got back from Budapest for the World Series round on Monday evening, and Tuesday I was in the simulator at Red Bull Racing for the whole day,” he says. “Wednesday morning I went straight to the track, met the team, saw my car, did a seat fit, and we were there until about 9:45pm in the evening. So the whole week was full-on. “Wednesday we got everything sorted, Thursday we did track walks and the usual stuff, and all of a sudden it was Friday and we were into the weekend.” 13
Even that seat fitting process on the Wednesday at Silverstone was different to what Ricciardo is used to. Whenever he’s had seats poured for Red Bull Racing or Toro Rosso, it’s been an exercise in infinite adjustments and ultimate precision, making sure he is as comfortable as possible. For example, straight after the British Grand Prix, Ricciardo flew to Italy on the Sunday night for a Monday morning body scan at STR HQ; just in case he ends up as one of their race drivers in 2012, they want to start building a car around him. But at HRT it was a different story. “Because we did [the seat fitting] at the track we were limited in our resources. The team basically had a carbon shell, a bucket, just a universal one. Then it gets filled with foam, just like you’d use in a Formula Ford. We just tried to find a decent mould for me. “It was all we could really do. Honestly, it wasn’t the comfiest seat. The cockpit is very, very tight – as they all are. I seem to have pretty wide hips for a driver! It was always going to be a compromise, because the steering column couldn’t be changed, so we couldn’t move it further away. If you see any close-up photos from the race, you’ll see I was basically resting my head on the steering wheel because I was so close. “I’m not saying these things affected me on track, but hopefully over the next few races we can work on getting me a bit more space and making me a bit more comfortable in the car.” With the basic pre-race ins and outs sorted on Wednesday and Thursday, Ricciardo arrived at the circuit on Friday morning ready to take part in his first session as a full-time Formula 1 driver. Walking into the circuit, he started to realise the enormity of what he was doing. “It was different. It was a different feeling,” he admits. “I had my helmet and my little bag and ... I don’t know, but you could feel in the air that something was different. It was cool. It was a surreal feeling. “Getting that attention for the whole weekend was strange. Even seeing the other drivers, and knowing that you’re one of them, was pretty cool. I never thought I would start a Formula 1 race with Michael Schumacher. It’s just amazing.” While Ricciardo is now very acclimatised to driving a racecar on a Friday at a Grand Prix, the one thing that he doesn’t usually do is the official FIA press conference. That all changed on that dreary Friday afternoon at Silverstone, when Ricciardo joined Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta and Rubens Barrichello in front of the media. While the four other drivers sat there looking bored, mumbling answers and playing with their smartphones, Ricciardo’s spent the whole time with a toothy grin on his face. “It was hectic,” he adds. “That press conference, it was good fun. I was pretty nervous for it, because it was my first one. You walk into this dark room, and there is about 70 photographers flashing away at the same time. You know when one of the drivers cracks a smile or does something different, because the cameras just go off.
“I HAD MY HELMET AND MY LITT THAT SOMETHING WAS DIFFEREN
Welcome to Grand Prix Racing: Ricciardo brought a little piece of Western Australia into Formula 1, with the Perth skyline on the back of his helmet, left. While Ricciardo is used to driving out of a garage on a Froday morning, above right, he had to get used to the other parts of being an F1 driver, like signing autographs, above, and TV interviews, below right. By the way, check out the image from the Friday FIA press conference below, and guess who the first timer is ... sutton-images.com sutton-images.com
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“IT WAS GOOD FOR ME. IT MADE ME REALISE THAT THIS IS FORM GUYS KNOW HOW TO BRING SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO QUALIFY 16
MULA 1, AND ALL OF THOSE YING.” www.mnews.com.au
“The photographers are just trying to get every facial expression. That was cool. “Over the weekend I did so many interviews. It started Wednesday and went right through to Sunday. I literally got half an hour to myself before each session to warm-up, and that was it. That was the only half hour out of the car I would get to myself. It was an intense experience. “I imagine it will settle down as the year wears on. Because Silverstone was my first race, everyone wanted to know how I was feeling. That will settle down over time. Hopefully I’ll have time to scratch my arse in the future.” Friday afternoon and Saturday morning were little victories for Ricciardo, because he was 23rd fastest in those two practice sessions. On paper, it doesn’t sound hugely impressive, but beating Liuzzi in those sessions was no mean feat. The Italian is essentially an F1 veteran now, and he’s been in that HRT car since the start of the season. Ricciardo hadn’t driven the car until Friday morning, so to be quicker than Liuzzi just a few hours later, in the rain, was a hugely impressive effort. That wasn’t lost on Ricciardo, but it did make it all the more disappointing when Liuzzi went 0.5s faster than him in qualifying. The fact of the matter is that Ricciardo may well have gone quicker than Liuzzi if he’d got his second run on new tyres in before the rain started. But he didn’t, and while he happily admits that he was unimpressed with being so far behind Liuzzi, Ricciardo made sure being last on the grid was a lesson learnt. “It was good for me to be in that position. It made me realise that this is Formula 1, and all of those guys know how to bring something different to qualifying and make those laps count when they have to. “That comes down to some experience on the tyre as well, especially with the option, the soft tyre. They have a very short life at peak performance, so even small things like managing the out-lap is vitally important. If you are two seconds too slow, or two seconds too fast, it makes a huge difference. “These are things I will learn over time. I probably should have done the out-lap a bit quicker before my fastest lap. The tyres weren’t quite ready in the first sector, so I would have done that differently if I had another crack. I have full confidence I would have gone quicker if I’d got a second run before the rain started. I think I would have been able to close the gap [to Tonio]. “I wanted a bit more out of qualifying, but I probably was expecting a bit too much.” All the while, throughout the opening practice sessions and then qualifying, Ricciardo was trying to get his head around the car. Remember, many of his F1 miles so far have been in pace-setting race-winning Red Bull Racing cars (the first F1 car he drove on a circuit was Mark Webber’s 2009 German GP winner), and even his Friday role at Toro Rosso sees him in cars that are capable of making Q3. So to suddenly be in an F1 car that had little interest in playing the game was an eye opening experience. “It’s definitely a difficult car to drive,” he admits. “It simply has less downforce, and that makes it harder on tyres as well. It’s working the front end so hard that you go through tyres so much quicker. It was clearly more difficult than driving one of the top cars, because you have to manage so many more things. “You’re basically fighting the car a lot more than you are in a Red Bull or a Toro Rosso. In those cars you might be flat in a corner, and then in the HRT you might be lifting, or even using a little bit of brake. It keeps you a lot busier. “I don’t think the driving style was any different, but during the race I had to manage the tyres more than I ever have.” In a press release from Toro Rosso at the start of the year, Ricciardo put any fears that his Friday role would be pedestrian component testing by saying that the team will want him to “rag the shit” out of the car (a quote straight out of the Mark Webber book of sound bites). And while the complex principles of driving do change between a good car and a bad one, the idea of ‘ragging the shit’ out of the car in qualifying stays exactly the same. 17
“In qualifying, well, you’re just driving the car the same as you would any car. The lap time isn’t the same, but you’re still trying to use all of the track and take the car to its limit. That’s all still a lot of fun. You just have to be prepared to not see the lap times.” Blue Flags are not something that Ricciardo has had to worry about much in his short racing career. He’s been a front-runner in basically every category he has raced in, so worrying about faster cars lapping you numerous times during a race has never really been an issue At Silverstone, it very quickly became an issue. With the HRT well off the pace, Ricciardo was not only fighting the car, managing the tyres, and trying to make the finish, but he was also trying not to get the front-runners off-side by holding them up. It sounds strange, but letting guys through without ruining your own race is a skill, and it was that skill that Ricciardo realised he lacked during the British Grand Prix. “It is a different race. It’s not the race you dream of, you want to be fighting up the front and do what you’ve been doing for the last few years. “The guys in the team could see it was my first time having to yield for a blue flag, because I was losing four seconds per car! The guys who have been racing the Hispanias and Virgins all year, they’re only losing about a second per car. “I was very cautious. I spent a lot of time looking in my mirrors,
making sure I wasn’t getting in the way of the fast guys. I was overcautious, but it’s not something I’ve done before. “It’s a vicious cycle. When you pull off line to let someone through, you end up with so much crap on the tyres. That takes a few corners to clean up, and then you’ve got someone else on your gearbox. That’s where I was losing all of my time. As the year wears on, I should get better at managing the faster cars and get faster myself, so it will become less of an issue.” With those first few Grands Prix under his belt, Ricciardo is now at a point where he must look at the immediate future. The loan to HRT is undoubtedly an expensive exercise, so getting something out of it is crucial, particularly if there is a Toro Rosso or Red Bull drive on the line for 2012. So, apart from the basics (learning the Pirelli tyres, getting used to pit-stops, finishing races), what does Ricciardo need to get out the remainder of 2011? “I want to be in front of Tonio and maybe even the Virgin cars. I want to get stronger as the season goes on. If I’m still not on Tonio’s pace by the end of the year, then I won’t be happy. I’ve really got to be in front of him, and maybe even do one spectacular race where we do both the Virgin cars somewhere along the way. “I think for Silverstone it was cool, just showing where I am. For the first time, we’ll take that. But from now on we have to get closer and closer, and at some point get in front.” motorsport news
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BLACK AND WHITE THE LONG INTERVIEW
What a year 2010 was for Paul Dumbrell. On-track, he switched from Walkinshaw Racing to Rod Nash Racing, racing a Ford Performance Racing-run Ford Falcon. He took his first podium finish, race win, and pole position.Off-track, he had to take over the CEO role at Automotive Brands, after his father was diagnosed with cancer in April. He also decided to retire, and then decided to give it one more year. In a frank and honest interview, one of the V8 Supercar paddockâ€™s nice guys told ANDREW VAN LEEUWEN all about his extraordinary year 20
REPRODUCED FROM ISSUE #403 OF AUSTRALIAN MOTORSPORT NEWS – JANUARY 2011
© AUSTRALIAN MOTORSPORT NEWS
OTORSPORT NEWS: Let’s go right back to the start of this whole FPR/Bottle-O thing. You seemed to have a happy home at Walkinshaw Racing, things were going okay, and the there was this almost shock decision to switch sides. PAUL DUMBRELL: It’s quite funny, the process which I’ve gone through now, the am I staying, am I going, it was even more so in 2009. I was 100 percent happy to give it away. I hadn’t achieved quite what I wanted to do, but I’d gone better towards the end of the season. I didn’t feel like I was getting the job done with the equipment I had; Garth [Tander] was winning races, Will [Davison] was second in the championship, and I thought ‘I’m not doing the job, and I don’t know if I can do the job’. In December, at the end of 2009, Garry (Dumbrell, Paul’s father) and I made the decision for him to step back, and for me to take on the role I’m in now at Auotmotive Brands. A few months later, when Garry got sick, we were already well down the path of making these arrangements. We were aiming for July 1, so it just sped that process up. That made me look at what was going on. Rod [Nash] let me know what he was doing for 2010, and I drove for Rod, under Autopro, when we didn’t even own Autopro, back in 2000. He’s a good family friend, and he was going to FPR, so I thought it would be a great, laid-back opportunity for me. I signed a three-year deal, but I told Rod I didn’t know for how many of those three
PAUL DUMBRELL years I could commit. What I did commit to him was that I wouldn’t go and drive anywhere else. So when you put pen to paper for that RNR/FPR deal, did you honestly believe, sitting here 12 months later, you’d be a race winner and a pole winner? (laughs) You think it, but do you believe what you think? Probably not. FPR were certainly making some inroads at the end of ’09, but Clayton were winning races at that time as well – Will only just missed out on the championship. I definitely felt like I could get podiums, because I should have had podiums before, but for reasons including myself, and the team, and whatever. Sitting here, looking at what we’ve ticked off in the last three or four weeks, that was well above expectation ... for everyone, I think. It’s not only above my expectation, but the expectation from the broader motorsport community, and even from the team. I remember being at Winton for your first test in the Bottle-O Falcon, and you were really quick that day, probably the quickest guy not to strap used Sprint tyres on. It looked like you just clicked with the Falcon. It’s funny, I remember chatting to you that day. I drove the car, and I did 10 laps or whatever, and the lap times on the dash weren’t working. I came in, and I said to Dave Paterson, my engineer, ‘I don’t know
what times we’re doing, but whatever they were, I reckon we’re in for a bloody good year’. The car just suited my natural style. I didn’t have to change anything. Compared to the year prior, the Walkinshaw cars are very quick, but they have to be driven in a style that was foreign to me. Over the two years, I learnt – sometimes – how to drive them, but sometimes I did struggle. With the Falcon, I was able to hit the ground running and drive how I needed to. That has shown, because more often than not, we’ve been on the right side of the Top 10. FPR this season; I spoke to Tim Edwards about this in Sydney, and he said that after the good start in the Middle East, the lull period was just through getting used to the cars. Then there was the test days prior to Darwin – and their cars have been the fastest out there since. When you look at the way Clayton has gone, what a smart decision it was you made! Yeah, it wasn’t good planning. Who would have thought Clayton would go the way they have, after the year they had in 2009? I don’t know what’s happened, but something has gone wrong or something isn’t gelling. As for FPR, I rolled into Abu Dhabi, and it was nearly like a new car for everyone. There was a fundamental shift in the car. Even though they finished the year strong, the car that they rolled out at the start of the season was completely different, so everyone was learning. In Abu Dhabi I think I finished eighth or ninth in the first
PAUL DUMBRELL race, after starting down the back. Frosty (Mark Winterbottom) was at the forefront of the direction we were going, and we were a round or two behind, because we were working on the old KISS principle, just keeping it simple. We just wanted a consistent car, so I could get used to it, because before Abu Dhabi Race 1, I hadn’t done more than 10 laps in a row! I had no idea what the car would do with tyre life. So Frosty had a couple of podiums to start with, and we had some Top 10 finishes, which was good, and then we hit a patch of ... we were doing the same things, but we weren’t delivering the right results. Every track we went to was different, and we were getting it right sometimes, and were off the mark sometimes. Then we did those two test days, and in the back end of the year we’ve been able to roll out of the truck and have all three cars generally in the Top 10 in the first session. As soon as you can do that, it’s amazing how much more productive you are for the rest of
happen. I even missed by flight down the Tasmania, because I was meeting with Rod and my old man, and then I finally made the decision to commit to one more year. I think I underestimated the impact of making that decision, how much impact it was having on me. As soon as I made that decision, I came from 11th to fourth, and then 10th to third in two races. Frosty was winning, so the car was strong, and I was driving to the car’s ability. When I crossed the line, I thought ‘how good’s this? I want to do this a bit more often’. At the time it came, it was straight into Sandown, and then a week in Mexico, and then straight into Sydney. I said to the guys after the podium that I wished it had happened before the eight-week break, so I could have enjoyed it for more than three days. That first win at Sandown, watching Jamie Whincup follow you in the latter part of the race, there was almost a moment when I thought you were going to drop it! Jamie
in session, you have to be the fastest driver on the track. Is it a different satisfaction? Winning the race was great, but what was even greater was backing it up the next day. It was like saying ‘we deserved that win, we deserved to qualify second the day before, and that’s where our speed is this weekend’. The elation isn’t the same, it’s a different feeling, more satisfaction than Saturday. When you win the race it’s elation, the pole was pure satisfaction. I don’t want to be offensive here, but it can be difficult to shake the rich kid tag. Has this rounded you off as a driver? Yep, I suppose I’ve been tainted with that for my whole career, but if anyone else was in my position, they would do the same. I’ve had a great opportunity given to me, and in the latter part of my career, I’ve taken it with both hands. In the first part of my career, I probably didn’t. I didn’t treat it as seriously as I should have, and it wasn’t until I was a bit more experienced and well-rounded as a person that I realised that I was the only
“Jamie got into the back of me a couple of times to ruffle my feathers, and I started making my same old mistakes. I realised what was happening.” the weekend, because you’re making small changes, not throwing things at the car, which is hit and miss. There have been three big milestones this season; the podium in Tasmania and then the race win and the pole at Sandown. Let’s talk through all three individually. The podium was funny, because it came the day after you’d held a press conference and mentioned how close you were to having the record for starting the most rounds without a round podium! It’s been an ironic couple of weeks. At the international driver test day at Queensland Raceway, I sat down with Tim and Rod, and I told them I wasn’t going to continue. They both were shocked. Tim said to Rod ‘did you know this was coming?’ Dave Richards (Prodrive boss) sat me down on the Sunday night at Indy, just to make sure I was making the right decision. The following week was constant meetings. I met with Bottle-O, I met with Tim, I met with Ford, and everyone was trying to facilitate whatever I wanted to 24
was right behind you, and you seemed a bit flustered and focussed on the mirrors, and then you decided it was you race, put your head down, and gapped him. Fair appraisal? 100 percent right! Jamie got into the back of me a couple of times to ruffle my feathers, and I started making my same old mistakes. I realised what was happening, I knew the only person who could lose the race was me, so for two laps, I didn’t look in the mirrors. I just did two qualifying laps. It gave me three car lengths, it wasn’t like I had two seconds, but it was enough that on the last lap I could be a little conservative, without the risk of him diving up the insides. Also, I knew who was behind me. Jamie would do anything to win the race, but he was in championship contention, so he wasn’t going to risk a drive-through or a DNF. But I’m good mates with JW, and he’s as hungry as anyone out there, so he wasn’t going to let me off, either. The pole a day later; a race can come to you, but with pole position, in a 20 minute all-
person who could make it work. That’s when I got serious with my fitness, and I’ve become a better person and a better race driver because of it. The podium, pole and race win, if they had happened mid-year, would they have affected your decision to commit to another year? Ummm ... more than likely, yes. One of the reasons I wanted to stay on was because we have good form at the moment, as you said, from Townsville on FPR has been really strong. Also, I would have been shattered to reach the end of my career without a podium, or a race win. I would have been always wondering. So between the speed of the cars, and the rumours for what was happening in 2011, I wanted to be involved. In the space of two weeks, I’ve done all the things I wanted to achieve in my career. Would it have changed my mind? Yeah, I think it might have, but the flipside is that I’m young, I’ve got another year in me in terms of commitment, so let’s just enjoy it. motorsport news
The Support Network: Rod Nash plants a kiss on Dumbrell after that first win at Sandown, left, while Dumbrellâ€™s brother Lucas, paralysed in a Formula Ford accident in 2008, was one of the first on the scene after the first podium in Launceston, below.
PAUL DUMBRELL You keep talking about another year. Is it another year and you’ll definitely give it away, or another year and you’ll go through the review process again? I will ... never say never, because you can look silly. I can’t see why I would continue on after next season. I’ve always said I want to go out on my terms, and the way the musical chairs works in V8 Supercars, I’d hate to miss out on a seat. I know I’ve got a contract for two more seasons, but I’d hate to not perform. That’s a risk I’m even running for this year, because I’m coming off the back of some good results, and I’d hate not to perform. At the current time, I’ve got ambitions to go and do Hawaii Iron Man, and it’s Bathurst weekend. Motor racing can throw a few spanners in the works.
Do you enjoy doing this? Do you get up every morning looking forward to your day? I walk in the door every day with butterflies in my stomach, because I never know what’s going to happen. In the role I have, I don’t have a lot of day-to-day, individual responsibilities. I’m more involved with planning and strategy, and looking long-term, and working with the marketplace. It’s a fun role, because it’s diverse; every day is different. Bringing it back to motor racing, for most of guys on their grid, racing is their job. Do you consider that maybe you have a bit of a luxury, because you can choose whether or not you go racing? I mean, for some guys, ending up without a seat can mean not knowing how they will feed the family ... Yep, that’s a pressure I don’t have. While I do have added pressure from the business side of things, I go motor racing because I love it. I don’t do it because I have to. I think that’s why I’ve gone well this year, because I’ve been doing it for fun. I was just a driver for a number of years, and I’d get up in the morning, train at 9am, go and read three papers, have another coffee ... I thought I was busy, but this is actually like a release. I can step away from motor racing, and it doesn’t consume my mind. But there’s a flipside, which is racing against guys like Frosty, who are 100 percent race drivers, and do nothing else. It’s hard to beat those guys.
Let’s talk about your business commitments. How does it affect you on a race weekend? It doesn’t leave my mind. Racing is a passion, it’s a dream and it’s a responsibility, because there are commercial obligations. But this is real. We have 220 franchisees, more than 200 staff across the group, facilities around Australia, and we’re moving to a new 22,000metre distribution facility. All of those things make it real. The pressure is high, because there are a lot of people depending on us as a team. Not me as an individual, but us as an entire team. The team is important here, because I wouldn’t be able to do what I do with racing, have that flexibility, without good people. Any business is about good people. You
need to develop the road, and the rest of the company keeps it between the lines.
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A DAY IN THE LIFE M OTORSPORT NEWS: Talk me through an ordinary day in the life of Paul Dumbrell. PAUL DUMBRELL: I joined an Iron Man triathlon club, called Fluid Movements in South Yarra. We have a coach, called Shaun Foster, and I sat down with him and talked about what I do with motor racing. He understands motor racing, because he used to train Cam McConville. He told me that it’s not about how much you train, but the quality of training. So I train as much as I used to, but I train a lot smarter. So that starts every morning at 5:30am. It’s an hour and a half at training, and then straight to work, so I’ll be at work by 7:30am. It’s generally a day of meetings, so I’ll catch up on emails first thing, and then throughout the day, I’ll be working on marketing, or I’ll go to a store, or it will be
working on the financial side of things. And a lot of phone calls ... I spend a lot of time on the phone. Later in the afternoon, 4pm onwards, I’ll try and tie my meetings in with the city. If I can’t, I’ll walk out of here at 7 or 8pm at night. Then I train in the evenings three or four nights a week, so it’s either at The Tan with the squad, or just training at home. Far out. That’s a serious schedule. It’s what I enjoy. On Saturday mornings in Melbourne I’m out of home at 6:30am on the bike to meet the squad, and then five or six hours on the bike or running. I’m at home about 1 or 2pm, and then I relax. I’ll come into work on Sundays, and just touch up on a few things. My theory is that it takes half an hour each way to work, but I’ll get more done than if I float around at home and get distracted.
Is there any room for a social or private life? That’s one of the reasons I was looking at giving motor racing away. Iron man takes up a lot of time, because I’m training between 15 and 20 hours a week. Then I’m working ... and do I need to work as long a hours as I do? Probably not, but I love it, so it’s not even a consideration. I’m single, so there isn’t a lot of time for that side of things. I had a partner for the first part of last year, but for whatever reason, it didn’t work out. That’s life. I do want a partner and to settle down one day, but I’ve still got youth on my side, and that will come. When it does, I’ll have to negotiate with myself what time I have, because it will be pressing. You’ll have to work out what will fall away ... Exactly. Something will have to. You can only live on six hours sleep for so long. – ANDREW VAN LEEUWEN
CRIMSAFE WOULD LIKE TO CONGRATULATE JIM BEAM RACING AND ALL THE GUYS AT DICK JOHNSON RACING ON AN AMAZING WEEKEND Crimsafe is proud to be expanding its involvement with The Team – ROLL ON 2011! www.mnews.com.au
Dick Johnson – “We will go into 2011 confident in the future of Dick Johnson Racing."
REPRODUCED FROM INSIDE SPORT, JANUARY, 2013
PORTFOLIO CONTINUED OVER THE PAGE
6 • OCTOBER 15-16, 2011
WEST WHEELS THE WEEKEND WEST
WestWHEELS COVER STORY
Sweet sound of a sportier identity An experienced racetrack driver gets behind the wheel of the new Lexus super sports car at Sandown Raceway THINGS are changing very quickly at Lexus. Two decades after the world got its first glimpse of the LS400, Lexus is undergoing an identity shift. With its luxury credentials recognised, the brand is now moving towards the luxury performance market, headlined, at an affordable level, by the ISF range. And, as if simply to prove that it can get the performance part of the luxury-performance mantle
ANDREW VAN LEEUWIN
right, Lexus has built the LFA. This is the hero car of the F Sport range. This is a $700,000 monster, designed not for the average motorist to pop in at the local Lexus dealer and throw a deposit down, but to show that a Lexus doesn’t have to be the bland type of sedan that your elderly uncle might aspire to own. This is the car that will be the yardstick for the ever-increasing F Sport range. The engine is a good place to
The interior of the LFA and under the bonnet of its 4.8-litre V10 engine, developed as a joint venture with Yamaha. start. The 4.8-litre V10 was developed as a joint venture with Yamaha and it basically sounds like a Grand Prix motorbike that has overdosed on protein shakes. As I drove the car down the long back straight at Sandown Raceway in Melbourne, it screamed like an open-wheeler, a noise that would put a smile on any motoring enthusiast’s face. And when I belted the carbon
ceramic brakes and hit the downshift paddle, the automated throttle blip was as sweet a noise as I’ve ever heard. You have to assume that when NASCAR star Kyle Busch was busted doing 128mph (206km/h) in a 45 (72) zone aboard his personal LFA in North Carolina earlier this year, the arresting police officer had plenty of audible warning to get the speed gun ready. Essentially, the engine speaks for itself. It makes 412kW at 8700rpm. And the car weighs 1540kg in Australian-spec. The maths is reasonably simple; combine those figures and it equals “fun”. The LFA’s roots are clearly marked. The “A” in the name stands for Apex, the word used for the centre of a corner on a racing circuit. The car has features such as a carbon-fibre rear diffuser, double wishbone suspension, dry sump lubrication up to 2G, a rear-mounted transaxle and a gurney-flap on the rear wing — just to name a few. These are things that are found
This is the car that will be the yardstick for the ever-increasing F Sport range.
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OCTOBER 15-16, 2011 • 7
WestWHEELS Andrew van Leeuwen with the $700,000 Lexus LFA before taking it for a spin at Sandown Raceway.
on racing cars, not road cars. Lexus even refers to the car as being born from both Fuji Raceway in Japan and the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Germany. So it’s no surprise that the car drives like a racing car. It goes like a racing car and it stops like a racing car. When the variable shift speed setting is on full bore, it even changes gears like a racing car, kicking you in the back with each full-throttle flick of the lever marked “+”.
REPRODUCED FROM WEST WHEELS, THE WEST AUSTRALIAN – OCTOBER 15, 2011
THE WEEKEND WEST WEST WHEELS
When I belted the carbon ceramic brakes and hit the downshift paddle, the automated throttle blip was as sweet a noise as I’ve ever heard.
Lexus expands popular F Sport variants Lexus will have an F Sport variant for every model in its Australian line-up by the end of next year. Currently, the only F Sport cars available in Australia are the CT200h hatch and the IS F sedan. But, along with the LFA supercar and the soon-tobe-launched GS 350 F Sport, a further six variants will be rolled out in 2012. “The LFA serves as a template and inspiration for the rest of the range,” Lexus Australia’s corporate manager Peter Evans said. “In practice, particularly in Australia, LFA, F and F Sport vehicles have resonated with our customers. So successful has F Sport been, that in 12 months, F Sport models have established themselves as genuine competitors, and make up 30 per cent of our CT sales, and 48 per cent of IS350 sales. “Customer demand in Australia has assured the continued rollout of F Sport. “In fact, you can expect to see seven new F Sport variants arrive in Australia next year, headlined by the all-new GS. The LFA is our yardstick.” While the make up of the six remaining variants is yet to be revealed, it is expected that a hybrid version of the GS and an F Sport version of the RX off-roader will be part of the line-up. As for the LFA, with a price tag hitting $700,000 and a worldwide production run of just 500, with 10 earmarked for Australia, they’ll be hard to get hold of. Five have already been sold to customers, four sold to dealers, and one is to be retained by Lexus Australia.
When it comes to corners, it turns like a racing car, especially at the understandably conservative speeds we were limited to at Sandown (this is the only LFA in the country right now), leaning on the Bridgestones effortlessly. I know I sound like I’m gushing about this car but, come on, how could you not?
Price: $700,000 (plus on-road costs) Drivetrain: 4.8-litre V10 Transmission: Six-speed automated sequential Outputs: 412Kw, 480Nm Kerb weight: 1540kg 0-100km/h: 3.7sec Top speed: 325km/h Thirst: 16.7L/100km
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