Dean Canto has confirmed that his four-year co-driving partnership with David Reynolds has come to an end, despite turning up at the latter’s future team this weekend.
News of Canto replacing Ash Walsh at Erebus for Phillip Island was quickly met with suggestions that the Adelaide-based driver may look to follow Reynolds to the squad in 2016.
Canto has however confirmed that he has no intentions of leaving Prodrive, with which he has another year on his current contract.
While like most multi-year co-driver deals an out clause is triggered if Canto gets a full-time seat, a lack of sponsorship means the 35-year-old isn’t thought to be among the contenders for any of the remaining vacancies.
Next year will mark Canto’s ninth consecutive enduro campaign with the formerly Ford Performance Racing branded outfit, having joined the team following the loss of his last full-time drive at the end of 2007.
“I’ve got a 60 page document that says I’m still contracted to Prodrive for another year, enduro wise at least,” Canto told Speedcafe.com.
“As for who I drive with, I don’t know. Chaz (Mostert) is probably too tall for me, but it’s up to the team if I’ll be with Chaz or Mark (Winterbottom), I don’t have a preference.
“I’ve had a good relationship with Dave and we have worked well together over the last four years, but at the end of the day it’s about what’s best for me.
“I’ve been there eight years now and it’s good to have that team continuity. It’s one less variable when you’re trying to hop in and get comfortable.
“It gives me every chance to be on the pace with the limited amount of testing that you get.”
Canto and Reynolds scored a single race win during their stint together at the 2013 Gold Coast 600 as well as a second place in the Bathurst 1000 the previous year.
Friday’s wet weather at Phillip Island proved a blow to Canto’s aim of settling into the Erebus Mercedes, ending the opening two sessions 24th and 20th respectively.
While dry laps were extremely limited, the former two-time Development Series winner was able to give some interesting insights into the behaviour of the E63 AMG.
“It does things fairly differently,” he said, noting significant difference in the front suspension design of the two cars, as well as the engine characteristics.
“Braking was good in a straight line but, whether it’s the engine or something else, it seems to over-slow itself when you’re trailing off into the apex.
“What you normally do to keep the front turning, you get before the apex and think ‘I’ve over-slowed it’ and you needed to go deeper.
“But you can’t go any deeper in the straight line braking, so it’s about trying to work that phase of the corner out, knowing what to expect so I can commit to the apex.
“Then just picking up the throttle and being used to the torque curve is the next thing I’ve got to get my head around.
“I’d say the mid-corner, cracking throttle and drive is better than a PRA car because I’m getting full throttle a lot earlier in this, but then again that could be to do with the way it delivers its power.”
Following the wet weather yesterday, all teams have been given permission to use their new set of Friday tyres for today’s final 15 minute session ahead of the twin qualifying hit-outs.
Canto says he’s not had a true green tyre run since his last solo drive with Garry Rogers Motorsport in the 2007 season finale, which coincidently took place at the Island venue.
“I don’t expect huge things but I’ll just do the best I can,” he said of qualifying.
“We’ll do as well as we can, but at the end of the day it’s about giving feedback about the car and where it needs to improve.
“In the race I can have a bit more of a play with it, but in qualifying you don’t learn much, you’re just trying to get the most out of the tyre for one or two laps.”