Home' V8X Supercar Magazine : Apr May 2016 Issue 92 Contents 40
Which brings us to a key point. While the
pushrod engines, shocks, brakes and rollcages
were being developed, an important factor
was the three-cornered tyre war between
Bridgestone, Dunlop and Yokohama.
“Back in the early days the Yokohama was
probably the best stop-go tyre, the Dunlop
probably had the best suitability across the
year in terms of working at the most places,
while the Bridgestone probably had the best
md-corner speed and lateral grip,” explains
multiple champion in this era, Mark Skaife.
“So that disparity in terms of where the
tyres were almost forged the way in the way
each of the teams developed their cars. The
rate we were chucking tyres at it was unbe-
lievable. We were going to race meetings with
By late in the 1990s with Cochrane presid-
ing over AVESCO, the show on a far healthier
financial footing and now in charge of its
own technical path, there was a push to try
and get beyond the constant parity bickering
and to reduce costs of build and develop-
ment. Enter Project Blueprint.
Driven by then category CEO Wayne
Cattach with category technical chief Paul
Little, it sought to equalise the cars in a sig-
nificant number of ways.
Most importantly, a concerted effort was
made to even up aero parity. Wheelbases
also became identical, the Commodore got
the double wishbone front suspension of the
Falcon, cylinder head porting was standard-
ised and much more.
A bunch of componentry became con-
trolled or part of a basket of approved com-
ponents. Crucially, too, a control tyre had
been introduced from the 1999 season.
The equalisation of the cars for competi-
tive and cost reasons continued on through
the 2000s. One high profile change was
the move to control the weight of engine
components, then later a control camshaft
was introduced. A sequential gearbox, E85
fuel, control brakes and testing restrictions
all continues to define the technical box the
teams worked in as the years went on.
But one constant factor in making these
cars go fast is still the locked diff, says
Hollway. “It’s still understeer in and over-
steer out and tricking the spool, basically.”
There was no doubt Ford desperately
needed the reset that Project Blueprint
delivered. The AU Falcon was a failure,
totally dominated by HRT’s VT Commodore
and its successors. For Seton, the halcyon
championship winning days were long gone.
“There were two things wrong with the
AU,” he explains.
“One was you couldn’t ever get enough
aero on the front to get the downforce
because it had a reasonably big wing on the
back. The balance front to rear wasn’t great.
Also, the shape of the car being quite round
meant it had a bit of lift as well. We always
had mid-corner understeer, just could not
get rid of it.”
Grech understandably remembers VT
fondly and rates its significance highly in
terms of the technical development.
“We were charged in those days to do the
homologation for all the Holden teams and
where we are headed today really started
back with VT. Instead of getting standard
road car body panels and cutting them up
to make the clearances, they allowed us to
then start manufacturing unique stuff for
V8 Supercars. It became more practical to
build a car and easier to build.”
Ford more than got back on an even keel
with the BA Falcon. Combined with Stone
Brothers Racing and Marcos Ambrose it
proved an unstoppable force in the cham-
pionship in 2003 and 2004, while Russell
Ingall followed up in 2005. The HSV Dealer
Team then delivered two championships
for Holden in 2006 and 2007. Later in the
decade, newcomers Triple Eight continued
the streak, winning three Bathurst 1000s
in a row in the BA and BF and two drivers’
championships in the BF and FG.
Technical director Ludo Lacroix brought
a European philosophy to building V8 race
cars, the Frenchman derisively dismiss-
ing the cars he first encountered here as
“I can’t design a tank, I’m not interested
in tanks, and when we come here some of
the cars were tanks, big Panzers. We don’t
do that,” he told V8X in 2009.
Project Blueprint’s mandatory 2822mm
wheelbase meant 2007’s VE Commodore
had to have its wheelbase reduced from
standard and, therefore, its body truncated
to keep it in proportion. That was achieved
by shortening the rear doors. It also had to
have its roofline lowered.
Twelve months later, Ford had to do the
same job with the FG Falcon. This was a
car developed aerodynamically by Lacroix. It
continues to be regarded as perhaps the best
execution of a V8 Supercar in that era, which
concluded with the introduction of the Car of
the Future regulations in 2013.
Triple Eight’s record was quiet sensational
in those last years few leading into Car of
the Future. It made the dramatic off-season
change from Ford to Holden in the 2009-10
off-season, winning Bathurst but just missing
out on he drivers’ championship. Still, the
title winner James Courtney was driving a
Triple Eight-built Falcon FG for DJR.
Lacroix’s philosophies of race design are
straight forward. Understand what the tyre
needs so you can extend its its working life as
long as possible, keep the centre of gravity low
and build the car stiff, adjustable and light.
Sure these cars aren’t exactly light weights,
but building lighter gives you the ability to
place ballast where it is most advantageous.
And he points out one other factor that
is a key if you want to develop a winning V8
“I believe only in work,” say Lacroix. “It’ s
just about how much work you put in and
how clever you are at doing it.”
The proof he and Triple Eight continue on
the right track shows in the results.
THE V8 ERA
launched in the
2003 season and
V8X92 p36-40 Tech Battleground.indd 40
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