Erebus trio not surprised by early pace
Erebus Motorsport drivers Lee Holdsworth, Tim Slade and Maro Engel are quietly confident of continuing their strong practice form for the remainder of the Coates Hire Ipswich 360.
The team completed a landmark practice day with the triumvirate of E63 AMGs filling three of the top four positions in Practice 2 after Slade set the pace in the opening session.
Holdsworth (Irwin Racing), Slade (HHA) and Engel (SP Tools) were second, third and fourth fastest respectively behind pacesetting FPR Bottle-O driver David Reynolds.
After the combined 75-minute sessions Reynolds squeezed out a 1:09.59s lap.
But it was the Erebus trio which turned some heads, backing up some promising development from their test day at their home Queensland Raceway circuit last week.
Holdsworth, who has suffered some early exits from races in recent rounds due to mechanical issues, believes he can validate his claim that his #4 Mercedes is capable of finishing deep in the top 10.
“I’ve expected to be in the top 10 the last couple of rounds where we have gained a bit of speed. We’ve been putting a lot of hard work into that point,” Holdsworth said.
“We’ve had good pace in practice and the races but just haven’t been able to finish it off.
“Obviously qualifying is important to start higher up and stay out of all the trouble. I’ve been caught up in some of that trouble in recent races and it’s put us out and lost us a heap of points.”
Holdsworth’s German team-mate Maro Engel remains reserved ahead of qualifying for the 60/60 sprint format which will open the Queensland Raceway round. Engel set the fourth fastest time of 1:09.82s on a fresh set of rubber.
“It’s been a positive day. Like the boys have said its early days. A lot of other people are yet to put on (decent) tyres,” Engel said.
“It’s good to get that experience tonight rather than tomorrow to see what the new tyre does before qualifying. We will have some good data to go back and improve on.”
Slade meanwhile could not better his best time of 1:09.78s after bolting on a set of new tyres toward the end of the session, leaving his crew with some questions.
“It was a solid day for us. It just got a little bit confusing toward the end there when we put on new tyres and went three tenths slower,” Slade said.
“We have got a bit of work to do tonight to work out what it was. I guess you could look at it as to being a good thing.”