Our team was the first to complete a COTF project and test it on a track, so we're basically test dummies for the rest of the field.
Jamie (Whincup) and I took it out on Queensland Raceway after the last round and I'm happy to say the first test went really well. It's an interesting car with a different makeup and a lot of potential. We still haven't got to fine tuning the car yet. It will take some time to understand the differences such as fuel economy, grip, handling and tyre wear.
But a big positive is in the larger 18-inch wheels and brakes which make the car more sensitive and provides more feedback and feel. The gearbox is now a transaxle and on the upshifts it is very nice and precise. However, the downshifts are a little bit different to what we currently run. At the moment it takes longer to select gears downshifting which we will have to work on.
The rear end has made the car much nicer over bumps and kerbs especially into turn one at QR. That means we will be able to attack the kerbs harder and save a bit of precious lap time. We'll get to test the car again in October when we head to Eastern Creek for our second test. We'll see what it's like on a high-speed fast-flowing track which is where I believe it will be even better.
Even in the very first track test we managed to record almost identical times to what we get on the hard tyre, so there is a lot of potential in the car to destroy some V8 Supercar lap records right around the country. At Ipswich we have the potential to take another second off my new qualifying record with a soft tyre and good track conditions.
The only problem is the newly surfaced track might disintegrate a bit by the time we get back there, but I still think the new race cars for next season will be record breakers. I'm quite excited about Red Bull becoming our new major sponsor as they are one of the biggest sports sponsors in the world.
Obviously the rumour mill has gone into overdrive about Casey Stoner joining V8 Supercars next year after he's retired from MotoGP. We now have the same sponsor as he does, so it's only natural people would put two and two together.
However, I'm not sure it's going to add up to four. It comes down to what he wants to do and I understand he wants to spend some time with his family. There is no given path for him to come straight into V8s, although we do have enough bays for an extra car at our Brisbane workshops.