Greg Murphy: Lacroix engineering Penske dominance
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Pundits have made a lot of DJR Team Penske's dominance in the early part of the 2017 Supercars championship.
People will rightly point to the addition of former Red Bull Holden Racing Team engineer Ludo Lacroix, who is now working for Penske and alongside Scott McLaughlin. There is more to it than that though.
I think Lacroix would agree his inclusion in the team has given some other directions and he has brought along a lot of information and ideas that I think he might have had bottled up inside. But the team was also making changes before he arrived.
They have some clever people there as well as Lacroix. Phil Key, who is Fabian Coulthard's engineer, is one of the most highly regarded in the lane and has been around for a long time.
The announcement Kiwi McLaughlin was coming to the team also came in line with Penske committing a certain budget to the operation.
So there is a combination of resources, people and ideas that have combined to create an operation that has shown pace and speed at every track. This puts them squarely in a position where they will be fighting for the championship.
On the other hand it will be a massive test for the Red Bull team - maybe their biggest. In the past they have had some moments where they have been off the ball slightly and it took some time to turn things around.
It was one of those times in 2015 when Mark Winterbottom snatched the title from them. That came from Prodrive being so good at the beginning of the season and they managed to amass points early and when Red Bull started to find their form they had to play catch-up and it was too big a gap to overhaul.
Just look at the faces at Red Bull Holden Racing Team in the garage last weekend in Perth. These clever people have been in strong positions before, but you can feel the intensity and stress there now.
How do you just find another level all of a sudden? Penske has managed to find it, but how does Red Bull Holden Racing Team find something to trump that? You just don't find those things overnight.
They have a challenge on their hands and that is great for the sport and for the championship. We are going to see a real battle this season.