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For so many reasons the Holden ZB Commodore is such an important Supercar. The fifth-generation Commodore is the first to be based on an import rather than a locally manufactured road car, the first Supercar based on a five-door hatch and the first Holden racer developed from scratch by Triple Eight Race Engineering.
Yes, Triple Eight has had input into Commodore Supercars previously in tandem with Walkinshaw Racing, the team from which it wrenched away the factory Holden Racing Team brand simply through the sheer weight of its race and championship-winning performances. And, yes, it had designed a complete car previously, the brilliant Ford BF Falcon, which is regarded by many as the best racer of the Project Blueprint era. The ZB is also the first Supercar to be homologated under the ‘NewGen’ technical regulations.
David Cauchi, in addition to his role as Triple Eight’s head designer and Jamie Whincup’s race engineer – the duo have netted two drivers’ championships in four years – has been ZB project manager since late 2016.
The 10-year Triple Eight employee has mothered the project from the very first casual conversations to its racing debut. Cauchi led a small team of multi-taskers to develop the ZB including German aerodynamicist Florian Hoefflin, who was recruited from HWA in Germany specifically for the role, design office manager Ian Drapier, fellow engineers Grant MacPherson and John ‘Irish’ McGregor.
It’s been a seminal time for Cauchi, who was hired into Triple Eight by former technical director Ludo Lacroix. He even lived with the eccentric, brilliant Frenchman years ago as he learned his trade.
Of course, Lacroix departed to DJR Team Penske late in 2016 and has played no direct role in the ZB program. So Cauchi has been in charge of a project developing a car that will be raced directly against the DJR Team Penske Ford FG X Falcon his old mentor oversees.
Cauchi is the first to admit Lacroix’s teachings have helped him in this project. There’s an irony here... Lacroix’s pupils could school him on the track in 2018!
“Ludo always insisted that we be scientific, understand things, look at why things happen, why did that break, why did that not work?” says Cauchi.
“Force yourself or challenge yourself to have deeper understanding of all the mechanisms in the car and that will ensure you make better decisions.”
Read the full feature in issue #104. The print edition of issue #104 also includes a pullout poster featuring Craig Lowndes’ Autobarn Lowndes Racing Holden ZB Commodore.
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CLICK HERE to purchase the Autobarn Lowndes Racing Holden ZB Commodore 2018 poster.