Chatting With Bargs
Danielle Schwerin and Michael Shaw
At April's second round of the V8Supercar Championship (Eastern Creek), Conrod decided to take the opportunity to have a chat with Jason Bargwanna, of Larkham Orrcon Racing (LOR). It's been nearly four years since we chatted to Barg's at the 2000 Indy, just prior to his and Garth Tander's Bathurst victory. His life has changed a lot in that time, most obviously he no longer drives for Garry Rogers and Holden, having made the switch at the start of season 2003 to LOR and Ford. Barg's it seemed was the perfect target for the first Conrod interview of the 2004 season.
Michael Shaw and Danielle Schwerin nabbed him bright and early Saturday morning for a chat before the weekend got hectic.
Conrod: With Larko out of the car this year, it has left you as the lead driver in the team. Has this lead to any more pressure to lead or perform?
Bargwanna: It's a little bit different but there's no more pressure. My desire to be a race winner and a champion comes from within not from without so whether Larko's my team mate or Winterbottom or Marcos Ambrose or Michael Schumacher, my desire to be the best I can be is still there, so there's no more real pressure, no.
Conrod: With Winterbottom being a rookie in the series this year, are you being expected to help him out in anyway?
Bargwanna: That's part of being a team member, you put in for everybody. It's not just about him and it's not just about me. We have to work together to get the best result for our team. There's things that he's brought from the Stone brothers and his experiences there and there's obviously experiences over the years that I can help him with and hopefully it's going to be a really good combination. Still got a bit of work to do yet but we'll get there.
Conrod: Just how hands-off has Larko been since vacating his drivers' seat?
Bargwanna: Hands-off? He's probably more hands-on. He's in there boots and all. You can sense that he wishes he was still in the car, but he understands what he's got to do for his business, and that's his decision, it's working really well. The good thing is, when we talk about set-ups and what the car's doing, he can straight away relate to it and understand it. In a lot of ways, without even driving the car can have input that's very positive.
Conrod: So it's still helping having him around?
Bargwanna: It's like...it's almost a perfect scenario really. Because you've got young Mark with his bit of fresh input, my input, and also we've got Larko's and he knows what's going on all the time. It's like having 3 drivers in the team.
Conrod: After a year with Ford and LOR, how are you fitting in with the team?
Bargwanna: Really good; to the point where I've extended my relationship with the team. We've ripped up the contract that we had and extended it for a longer term; simply because I feel very comfortable in the team. I think the goals the team set coincide with what I'm trying to achieve. And with that relationship happening, it's working really well. It's working very well. I mean, I'd like to have a big budget and the best car in pitlane and the guys there are working towards that. That's what we're going to have.
Conrod: Living in Melbourne, it hasn't been a problem given the team in Gold Coast based?
Bargwanna: Living in Melbourne in some ways has its bonuses. Obviously Ford, who are a major sponsor of our team, have their head office is in Melbourne. Most of the promotional stuff we do is around the country, so I need to live close to an airport, it doesn't matter which one.
Conrod: Leaving Holden and GRM - Why?
Bargwanna: There's a number of reasons. I drove for Garry for five years and we had a good relationship but at the end of the day, he runs his business his way and he had things he wanted to achieve and that didn't really suit what I wanted. I felt that the BA Falcon was going to be the car to have over the next few years, so I worked as hard as a could to get into a Ford and into a Falcon and it worked out that Larko was certainly the best option in that area. I'm very happy and I don't look back.
Conrod: With the season of development of the BA under the teams and your belt, how has the car improved?
Bargwanna: Well the results are starting to speak for themselves a bit now. We only got our BA late in the season last year. We were a bit lost with it for the first couple of races. By the time we got to Bathurst it was actually quite competitive. Sandown, the car was strong. Obviously New Zealand and Eastern Creek, we got two fifth places. We came out of the Grand Prix this year with another fifth place and fifth in the last race at Adelaide. So if we can start going better than fifth, we'll be right.
Conrod: What about the Stone Brothers engines, is the increased power helping?
Bargwanna: There's a relationship there that Mark's been able to put together that allows us to have some more competitive engines. We certainly don't have more than anyone else now, we've just got about the same. So what it does is eliminates that part of the equation as being an issue. Last year we were down on power and this year we don't seem to be. So you're in a situation like in Adelaide and like at the Grand Prix where you can race people. You're not subject to being passed all the time because you don't have the power. So once you get to the front you can stay there.
Conrod: Have you noticed it on this track in particular?
Bargwanna: Not so much at the moment. We're struggling in a lot of other areas, so it hasn't stood out as being the answer at the moment. I've certainly noticed it over the first couple of races and I expect it to be the same here. But at the moment, being Sat morning, we're struggling to get our car right.
Conrod: So it didn't roll out of the truck the neatest package?
Bargwanna: No, it definitely didn't roll out of the truck being a good package. But that's ok, it was only Friday.
(At this point Mark Larkham walks into the room)
Conrod: With the enduros, are you expecting Larko back?
Bargwanna: He's already booked his position next to me in the enduros.
Larko: I'm gonna sit back and whichever car is going fastest, I'm going in that one.
Bargwanna: He'll make that decision on Saturday night. So it's definitely a bonus in that area that we can have Mark as a driver in the team for the enduros. Someone with the knowledge and experience. It's a very positive thing to have Mark as part of the driver lineup. Actually, there's no negatives in it whatsoever.
As far as I'm concerned, there's two very experienced drivers in the team, so I'm looking good at the moment. If I end up with either of the Marks it doesn't bother me.
And Bargwanna's parting comments as the interview came to a close:
Hi to all the Conrod fans.
I think they probably all say hi to you too Barg's.
Conrod would like to thank Jason Bargwanna once again for donating his time, we would also like to thank Mark Larkham for his involvement and Lee Hanatachek (the teams PR) for having set up the interview.