As we prepare to shut down for Christmas break, we spoke to Team Principal Tim Edwards to wrap up the year and to get his thoughts on what is ahead in 2017.
It was a long year, and a tough year. There were plenty of challenges and highs and lows. What are your thoughts looking back on it?
Naturally, like everyone in the team, we’re a bit disappointed because when you’ve set the bar so high for yourself, with winning the championship, clearly you want to defend it and retain it so when you don’t do that, you’re a bit disappointed. Though what that has done is make us all hungrier to get it back next year. By the back end of this year, that was our focus, learning what we could so that we could come out fighting stronger for next year.
What positives do you draw from the 2016 season?
It was great obviously to get back-to-back Dunlop Series Championships and to get a one-two is fantastic for the team. I think both Garry and Jack are great prospects for the future. It was great to see Chaz, particularly in the back half of the year, really starting to find his form again after what happened at Bathurst in 2015. Overall it was good to see the team still working as hard as they did the year before even though the results weren’t there. While we didn’t bring home the number of trophies we would have liked, everybody still dug in deep and worked hard and we have to work even harder for next year.
Back-to-back Dunlop Series championships are a great achievement. Tell us your thoughts on that program and do you think we can back it up next season?
The competition is only going to continue to increase in that category; no different to how it does in the main series. Certainly our goal is to win the championship again, without a doubt, but until you actually get out on track and understand who is driving what cars and what the competition is, you don’t really know. I fully expect it to be tougher next year as it just seems to get tougher and tougher in the main series each year.
Tell us why Jason Bright? What will he bring to the team in 2017?
Even from when Brighty drove for us a decade ago, he is a very technically driven driver. Frosty learnt a huge amount off him in his first couple of years because he is such an engineer of a driver so I think that will undoubtedly help the whole team, bringing someone in with his experience. Ultimately it was about bringing some experience in. Obviously there are commercial decisions that have to be made and all of these things with different partners at stake but ultimately I think he brings a huge amount of experience to the team and he is really keen to prove to people that he’s still got it.
Looking ahead to 2017, what work do we need to do between now and the start of the 2017 season?
A huge amount. I can’t go too far into specifics but we know our areas of weakness and it’s not one thing. It’s like everything in this sport, there’s no silver bullet. It’s not that we’re changing one thing and all of a sudden that’s going to be the catalyst to take us back to p1 all of the time so there’s a lot of little things that we need to do better. We’re working on all of those one percenters to get us back to the front. That is the focus and it’s a long list. In isolation you could look at any one of those things and think well that’s nothing, but add it to 20 other nothings and it’s something.
As we all know we’ll have a new tyre construction next year. How do you think the new construction will impact the FG X? Are we all essentially starting from scratch?
It’s an unknown to everybody. Anybody who thinks they know what the new tyre is going to do is kidding themselves. There’s only one team that’s actually got any experience because they ran it for Supercars earlier in the year, but the rest of us are in the dark. We know it’s a different shape and we know it’s a different construction, but until we actually get on track in February next year, that’s when the real hard work starts because that’s our opportunity to start understanding it and see what it does. Obviously everybody will go there with their best foot forward, thinking, okay we think it’s going to do this to the car, so you’ll make some educated guesses so to speak but until you actually get on track you don’t know. It will undoubtedly be better for some people and worse for others because it’s just one of those things but we’re not going to know who it will suit better until we get out there. For those that it doesn’t suit it just means that they’ve got to work very hard and very fast to get on top of it. Every team will have an in-depth test plan for that first day to work through a full range of adjustments on the car to try and hone in as quickly as you can what setup the tyre suits.
Finally, what is your message to our loyal fans?
Thanks for their support and stick with us. We know we didn’t deliver certainly on our own expectations for this year but we’ve won the championship before and we’ve won Bathurst a couple of times and we’re pretty hungry to get back there because it’s a bit like the forbidden fruit, once you’ve tasted it, you want it back.