Australia’s most successful supercar team, Red Bull Ampol Racing, has swapped brands to Mercedes Benz.
No not the cars it races, but the truck it uses to haul its precious cargo of race cars and equipment around the country.
The team will still be campaigning Commodores, albeit without Holden badges these days, and this doesn’t signal a re emergence of the three pointed star on track in Supercar racing, although they were campaigned privately by the Erebus team a few years back.
After years with an `Iveco in front of its B Double Transporters, the Ampol; Red Bull team has switched to a Mercedes-Benz Actros for the 2021 Repco Supercars season, debuting the new truck at the second round of the series at Snadown in Melbourne recently.
The Benz Actros will carry the cars of seven-time Supercars champion, Jamie Whincup, and 2016 Supercars Bathurst and championship winner and current series leader, Shane van Gisbergen, as well as the vast array of spares and team gear required to be successful at the top of Supercars.
Whincup was on hand to collect the keys to the top-the-line Actros prime mover at Daimler Truck and Bus headquarters in Mebourne ahead of the Sandown round and as a licenced truck driver, he was able to take the new Benz for a quick drive.
The top of the range 16-litre Actros and its 625hp of power, not far off the ‘635hp-plus’ output of the Red Bull Ampol Racing Holdens it hauls, but with a hefty 3000Nm of torque it clearly out points the race car on pulling power.
The new race team Actros is equipped with Predictive Powertrain Control, using topographic map data and GPS information to help the truck anticipate terrain and select the optimum shift pattern and engine response for maximum fuel economy.
It also features two 12-inch customisable tablet screens that present information in super crisp detail, giving the driver more control and information in a clear and stylish manner.
Red Bull Ampol Racing also ticked the box for the optional MirrorCam system, which captures vision from cameras on aerodynamic wings and displays it on screens mounted on the A-pillars in the cabin.
Whincup, who has a Multi Combination Heavy Vehicle licence, enjoyed his drive in the Actros prime mover.
“The cab is a real stand out. It’s really impressive how much of the technology you see in Mercedes-Benz cars is also in these trucks,” he says.
“These screens and the touch controls on the steering wheel are excellent, because it’s really easy to keep on top of everything.”
Whincup, who is competing in his last full season of Supercars, welcomed Daimler Trucks on board as a sponsor and supplier of the team’s trucks.
“We always want to work with the leaders in each field and it’s clear that Daimler Trucks is a leader with advanced trucks like this Actros,” he says.
Whincup is hoping to hit the road for a longer run in the Actros on the way to one of the events during this season, but regular driving duties fall to experienced transporter driver Dave Lewin.
Like all Actros models, the Red Bull Ampol Actros comes standard with the Mercedes-Benz Active Brake Assist system, a radar/camera system that can automatically perform full emergency braking for vehicles and pedestrians.