One of the biggest years in the history of Triple Eight Race Engineering will see the team racing everything from Supercars and Super2 to GT sports cars, as well as ramping up its Gen3 prototyping.
A total of five cars will be competing under the T8 banner and, although team trump Roland Dane admitted it’s a heavy workload, he is not expecting any problems.
“It’s not the biggest year. We have run five cars before,” Dane told Race News.
“In 2019 we had three programs, and it was more complex because one of them was overseas.
“As long as we’re the right side of Covid it will be a busy year.
As his main game and Super2 cars run through their pre-season shakedown and testing program, and he rolls steadily towards semi-retirement from the T8 empire he created, Dane is typically blunt about this year’s program.
“I’m just looking forward to doing my job this year. It’s no different to normal. Carry on. No different,” he said.
And the objectives?
“Having some race wins and winning some trophies. And commercially a good year.”
But is T8 fully primed for 2021?
“Only the liars are ideally prepared. You always want a little bit more time, a little more money, a few more people. But we’re not in a bad position.”
That position includes the final year for Jamie Whincup in the Supercars championship, alongside Shane van Gisbergen, as Garth Tander and Craig Lowndes also begin their 2021 in the official pre-season test at Queensland Raceway.
For Super2, where Brock Feeney and Angelo Mouzouris are both heading into their second season,
“They have had their progression interrupted last year by a curtailed program. They have now got to pick up where they left off.
They both, quite rightly, harbour strong ambitions to get into the main game and our job is to ensure they are prepared for that.
“We should be trying to ensure we are in the fight for the championship as well.”
Dane warns against reading too much into the 888 racing number on Feeney’s car, which also carries backing from Red Bull.
“What we’re trying to do is keep the 888 number alive in Supercars. I don’t want somebody else claiming it.
But Dane knows how to get the job done in Super 2.
“We ran two cars in the past with Brenton Grove and Kurt Kostecki. We won the championship with Andrew Thompson years ago and finished second with Scotty Pye.”
But Triple Eight is new to the re-branded GT World Challenge Australia, where it will field a Mercedes-AMG GT GT3 for Malaysia’s Prince Jefri Ibrahim of Johore and Shane van Gisbergen, although there have been foreign forays in recent years.
“We’re certainly out to do our best in the three championship. Our plan with the Australian GT program is to train Prince Jefri up to a new level, and carry on what we started in 2019.
“Our plan in 2020 was to have a more expansive overseas program, and now we’re having to adapt to the circumstances we find ourselves in.
“Unfortunately it got interrupted last year. That’s our target with the GTs, to use this year to get back up to speed. There is no better place and no more intensive place than Australia.”
Dane said the Prince has no ambitions in Supercars, preferring to build a GT career for events in Europe and other major races perhaps including Le Mans.
“It’s a big training year, both inside the car and outside the car. He just wants compete in GTs around the world, so it’s our job to help him fulfil his ambitions.”
The Malaysian Prince has already relocated from Johore to Australia, completing quarantine and moving to the Gold Coast ahead of pre-season testing.”
Dane is reluctant to discuss any Gen3 work by Triple Eight, although he is known to be prototyping a number of pieces in the future car project.
“We’ve got several people on it,” he said.
But he has ruled out any extension of the Hyundai Excel build program that created some of the best cars in the one-make category.
“We’re not building any Excels at the moment. That was just a grid filler to fill things up last year,” he said.