Mark Winterbottom believes that Ford Performance Racing’s rising star Chaz Mostert can catapult Dick Johnson Racing into the top 10 when he makes his debut for the team at Barbagallo.
Winterbottom was on hand at Morgan Park, Queensland, today to assist Mostert during his first test aboard the #12 Ford that he will campaign while on loan to DJR the remainder of the 2013 season.
Differing engine suppliers aside, the DJR cars are essentially the same specification as their FPR counterparts thanks to a pre-existing technical deal between the two squads.
The Queensland-based cars however have struggled relative to the factory entries during the opening three events of the year with Tim Blanchard and the now departed Jonny Reid at the wheel.
While Winterbottom was flown to Morgan Park to assist Mostert, the Dunlop Series graduate’s capabilities left the 20-time V8 Supercars race winner with little to do.
“I tried to give Chaz a few pointers and a few tips, but he was pretty quick straight out of the box so he didn’t really need too much of my advice to be honest,” Winterbottom told Speedcafe.com.
“He’ll be on the pace straight away in Perth for sure. He’s a good driver and a good young bloke with no ego. He’s got the right attitude and he’s going to do really well.
“He says he’s just aiming for the top 20, but I think he could definitely put it in the top 10 in Perth,” he added.
“It’s not the first time he’s driven (a V8 Supercar). The only thing he’s got to get used to is the tyre management through the races and the pitstops later in the year.
“Pace-wise he’s definitely going to be there straight away. If he gets it right in qualifying I think he can be in the top 10 comfortably.”
Winterbottom spent just 10 laps behind the wheel of the DJR car thanks to the Rookie Test rules, and said there were only subtle differences compared with his regular Pepsi Max-backed mount.
“It felt pretty good; it had strengths in areas that ours doesn’t and vice-versa,” he said.
“But (hardware wise) everything is the same apart from the engine, and one of our guys (Adam De Borre) is engineering it, so there was never going to be much of a difference.
“Chaz will need a bit of a different set-up because he drives the car a bit differently. He’ll need to go searching for that, but we’re only talking about a spring rate here and there, so it’s not a lot of difference.”
The test took place at Morgan Park due to the unavailability of Queensland Raceway, and while Mostert had driven there before in an OzTruck, it was Winterbottom’s first look at the 3km Warwick venue.
“It’s a really cool little track. The safety is not its strongest point, but it’s a nice layout,” said Winterbottom.
“It’s sort of a hidden place. We’ve got all these tracks around the country that, because the V8s don’t race there, people don’t know they exist.
“Compared to Willowbank it’s a lot of fun.”
Erebus Motorsport was also at Morgan Park today with its rookie driver Maro Engel, who reported a positive driveability improvement from the maiden hit-out of the team’s new-for-Barbagallo engine upgrades,