Erebus takes stock after troubled V8 Supercars debut

Lee Holdsworth was the only one of the three E63 drivers to see the flag on Sunday

Lee Holdsworth was the only one of the three E63 drivers to see the flag on Sunday

Mercedes-Benz V8 Supercars outfit Erebus Motorsport has this morning begun a short rest period following a hectic four months that culminated in a difficult debut at the weekend’s Clipsal 500 Adelaide.

The team’s entries of Tim Slade, Lee Holdsworth and Maro Engel held three of the bottom four positions on Sunday’s grid, with the E63 AMGs noticeably struggling for straight-line speed.

Holdsworth eventually made it to the flag in last position, while the efforts of Slade and Engel were both hampered by problems with their car’s fly-by-wire electronic throttle system.

The German had been troubled by the same throttle issue over the course of Saturday and Sunday, having earlier suffered a spectacular oil-line related engine fire in Friday qualifying.

“To be honest and fair, I thought our performance before coming here was going to be better than it was,” team manager David Stuart told Speedcafe.com following the event.

“We’ve still got quite a bit of work to do with the engine and chassis. Having said that, we progressed the chassis quite well throughout the weekend, and all drivers have commented that the balance is improving.

Maro Engel didn't take either start from the race track due to the throttle mapping issues

Maro Engel didn’t take either start from the race track due to the throttle mapping issues

“We still have some straight line speed to sort out, but it (struggling) was always going to be expected, given the tight nature of the project.”

The rawness of the cars in Adelaide emphasised the tight timelines behind the project to date, with the squad’s AMG Customer Sports agreement having only been signed off last September.

Although the team was able to complete its three shakedowns and two Accredited Manufacturer days before the official mid-February test at Sydney Motorsport Park, a rushed final test at Queensland Raceway – in which the cars did not arrive at the circuit until the late afternoon – indicated that Adelaide could be a bumpy ride.

Stuart says that the team must take stock before rushing out to its next test day, of which it has just four remaining for the year.

“Like most teams, we need to get on top of all our spares and things like that,” he said, also emphasising that the team does not expect to be posting competitive results until the second half of the year.

“What we need to do is get back to the workshop, regroup and pinpoint the areas that we need to solve first (before we undertake our next track test).”

Despite the lack of results, Stuart was keen to pay tribute to the work that his Yatala, Queensland, based crew has gone to during the changeover from its former Stone Brothers Racing Ford guise.

“I’m speechless at the effort that everyone at Erebus has put in,” he said.

“You couldn’t ask of any more of people. I feel guilt speaking to them. I’m so proud of being a part of it and be in the position I am in this team because you couldn’t want a better bunch of people.

“They’ve given every single last drop. We’ve done a hell of a lot in a short amount of time.

“We always knew we’d be underdone coming here. We’ve said that a few times, but we’ll progress through the year and get them to the front of the grid.”

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