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Burgess encouraged by key HRT progress

Friday 23rd May, 2014 - 4:00am

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James Courtney at Barbagallo

James Courtney at Barbagallo

Adrian Burgess is confident that Walkinshaw Racing made a ‘very important’ step forward at Barbagallo as he continues to lead the rebuilding of the factory Holden squad.

While failing to finish higher than eighth in any of the three races, Burgess deemed the weekend, which is said to have included the roll-out of another 25 development items, a key step in the team’s progression.

The upgrades came ahead of the team’s first private test day of the year at Winton on June 2, where another raft of upgrades will be evaluated.

“We introduced some new parts over the last two races and at Barbagallo we found what everybody in our team on the engineering side will quantify as a very important thing wrong with the car,” Burgess told Speedcafe.com.

“It answers a hell of a lot of questions. Categorically we can go back to base and say ‘this has been giving us a lot of grief for a long time’.

“We can go back and go and fix it, and we hope to have all four cars roll out with an update in that particular area for the next race.

“That will, definitely I think for the guys, give them a real uplift in confidence.

“At the same time it’s disappointing to now track back and see that this has been there over the course of the last couple of years and has been missed.

“It’s been like that with a few things on the car that it’s gone down a particular path and you’ve got to trace it all the way back to the decision that was made to go down that route and identify where you made the mistake,” he continued.

“That’s what we’re trying to do with a lot of things on the car and there’s still a lot of work to do in a lot of areas.

“Engines, clearly we’re not the best, but with the chassis and the tyre life we believe we’re getting better.”

Burgess was one of several new recruits to the team this year that have helped inject fresh ideas and perspectives.

According to Burgess, technical director Mathew Nilsson (ex-Ford Performance Racing) and new race engineers Alex Somerset (ex-Nissan Motorsport) and Blake Smith (ex-Tekno Autosports) have all played key roles in moving the four Commodores forward.

Stressing that the team simply needs time to implement its aggressive development schedule, Burgess admits that the squad must improve its ability to get on top of set-ups ahead of race meetings.

The task of honing in on set-ups ahead of the first qualifying session at race weekends has been made all the more difficult this year by the slashing of practice time.

“We’re not good enough yet at arriving on Friday and having a good car all the way through to Sunday,” he said.

“But what we have shown I think is that if we have an average car on Friday and Saturday, then we get to Sunday with a good car.

“We’ve got to understand how and why we’re doing that and make sure we roll out with a good car.”

Off-track, the team is thought to remain in final negotiation with Holden about the details of an extension to its current contract, which concludes at the end of the season.

The car maker announced a new two-year agreement with fellow factory-backed squad Triple Eight earlier this month, coinciding with a minor fleet deal between Holden and team sponsor Red Bull.

“It’s on the table, it’s being discussed and it’s fairly straight forward, but at the moment it’s not a priority for us to come out and announce anything,” said Burgess of the team’s position with Holden.

“We’ve just re-signed GT (Garth Tander, for two years) so both the drivers (Tander and James Courtney, who inked a three-year extension in mid-2013) are locked in. I think that probably tells enough of a story already.

“When the time is right we’ll come out and announce our future with Holden.”

Burgess was quick to swat away any suggestion that the lack of public clarity on its future with Holden has the potential to have a negative impact on the team.

“None of it is giving us any more stress,” he said.

“We’ve got enough stress and pressure on ourselves to deliver the results that we want to deliver.

“This category is all about results and you get judged every second week (regardless of contract talks).

“We’re definitely not happy with where we’re at, but we know where we need to go and where we’re heading.”

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