Robinsons bank on American-built car
THE high-profile Robinson Racing outfit has enhanced its reputation as an innovator in the V8 Dirt Modified ranks with a new imported Teo Pro Car, custom built in the United States. "We did get a better car for what we paid, compared to what we would have got if we'd bought one here," team driver Mark Robinson said. "The aim was to get the latest in technology and we have that. All going well, this car should last us eight years." It was eight years ago that Robinson took delivery of the team's first American-made car, an Olsen chassis, which was diametrically opposed to the locally engineered cars of the day. In a successful debut season, the team claimed the Queensland and South Australian titles, as well as finishing runner-up in the 2000 Australian titles. Team patriarch Steve Robinson commissioned Lismore fabricator Phillip Mathews to build an Olsen clone, a car in which Mark Robinson claimed the 2005 Australian title as well as dual NSW titles and a second Queensland victory.
Mark Robinson hopes to emulate that success with the new Teo. "It was still a good car but we just felt we had to keep up to date with the technology," he said. And the main area of technological advancement? "Mainly the rear suspension," he said. "Australia has been a bit behind the eight-ball as far as suspension goes but now that we are starting to get more and more of their (American) cars over here it's clear the American set-up is the way to go. "It's just the rear-end package they have. I think it works better for our type of racing than the open-tube cars. "It will take us a few race meetings to get used to the changes. Each track we go to we might struggle a little at the start but by the end of the night we should be there." While spectators are unlikely to notice any of the technical improvements, Robinson's new car looks different to the previous one and is 20cm longer. Robinson raced the car in a mid-September practice night in Brisbane and was on lap-record pace in just his first outing and on a less than ideal racing surface. The car landed in Brisbane at the start of February and it was planned the car make its racing debut towards the end of the 2006-07 season. But engine problems prevented that. Powering the new Teo is the same engine that saw out the end of last season, 'the same old bitza', as Mark Robinson likes to call it. Engine failures have plagued the Robinson camp in recent years, leading some to question the team's loyalty to the blue oval. But Mark Robinson remains upbeat. "Bill Mann and Phil O'Brien at Performance Wholesale have put together a strong package for us with the engine we have in the car now," he said. "Plus we have the other engine up with Kenny MacNamara. He's going to come to a few race meetings so he can get the gist of how the car works, what the engine needs and when it needs it.
"Then we can make changes from there. Hopefully with these guys on board all our engine dramas are behind us."