Triple Eight Race Engineering
Team(s): Red Bull Holden Racing Team / Autobarn Lowndes Racing
Team Principal: Roland Dane
Chassis: Holden Commodore ZB
Drivers’ Championships: 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017
Drivers: Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen (Red Bull Holden Racing Team) / Craig Lowndes (Autobarn Lowndes Racing)
A brief history
After dominating the British Touring Car Championship with the Factory backed Vauxhall program winning 12 Championships, Triple Eight Race Engineering co-owners Roland Dane, Ian Harrison, Peter Butterly and Derek Warwick, seeking a greater challenge, decided to expand into V8 Supercars in late-2003.
The Australian arm of Triple Eight Race Engineering has built itself into the dominant force in Supercars (in both the Ford and Holden marques) – not finishing lower than second in the Drivers Championship since 2005.
In its 10th anniversary season in 2013, the team achieved something no other had in over half a century of Australian Touring Car Championship (ATCC) /V8 Supercars Championship racing – a third consecutive 1-2 finish in the championship. Overcoming dramas at the beginning of the 2014 season, drivers Jamie Whincup and Craig Lowndes fought back to finish 1st and 4th respectively wrapping up the Teams’ Championship for a third consecutive year. After sealing his place among the V8 Supercars greats in 2013 with a record-equalling fifth title and third straight Championship, Whincup went one better in 2014 clinching a record-breaking sixth championship title and equalling the record for most successive championships with four. In 2015, the Queensland-based outfit took the team title for the sixth year in a row, but conceded the drivers’ championship, with Lowndes narrowly missing out on his fourth title. Second capped off an amazing season for the V8 Supercar veteran who won a sixth Bathurst 1000 title and became the first driver in ATCC / V8 Supercar history to achieve the 100-win milestone.
In 2016, Triple Eight Race Engineering expanded to three entries for the first time. New signing Shane van Gisbergen moved across from Triple Eight customer team Tekno Autosports, joining Whincup in the Red Bull Racing Australia (RBRA) garage, while Lowndes ran in the third entry/second garage with the same equipment sporting a Caltex-backed livery. The expansion was a great success for the team winning the teams’ championship, delivering van Gisbergen his first Supercars championship and the Pirtek Enduro Cup, and Whincup becoming only the second driver in the history of Australia’s Supercars championship to reach 100 wins. The team’s consistent and strong form gave them a 1-2-4 finish in the championship, one position shy of sweeping the series. This form compared to the mediocre achievement of long-time Holden rivals, the Holden Racing Team (HRT), saw Triple Eight take over as the brand’s factory squad, ending HRT’s direct works backing of 26 years.
2017 was yet another successful season for the Triple Eight Race Engineering outfit, but they didn’t quite have it all their own way. Losing out to Ford rivals DJR Team Penske in the Teams Championship ended a run of seven consecutive teams’ titles for Dane’s Red Bull-backed squad. While van Gisbergen failed to defend his title, teammate Whincup won an unprecedented seventh Supercars drivers crown. A season long battle between Whincup and Scott McLaughlin came down to not just the last race but the last lap of the season finale in Newcastle, in what was perhaps the hardest- fought of all his seven championships. But the battle wasn’t just on track. Triple Eight took on the added challenge of designing, building and developing the new Gen2 Supercar version of the new (European-built) Holden ZB Commodore that will be raced by all Holden teams in 2018. The squad has also been involved with the development of the 3.6 litre twin turbo V6 engine tailored for Supercars’ Gen 2 regulations, in partnership with the General Motors Performance and Racing Centre in America. Intended to be run full-time in 2018, the V6 twin turbo engine will now be phased in, running only in selected races on a wildcard entry basis in 2018 ahead of a full rollout next year.
All three Triple Eight drivers remain for the 2018 season, with Lowndes’ car switching from Caltex to Autobarn sponsorship. And there’s no bigger motivation for the team than the remarkable rise of DJR Team Penske. Having been caught out by the huge strides taken by the Ford team, Triple Eight will not want to be exposed like that again.