David Reynolds is convinced that Erebus Motorsport’s off-season switch from Mercedes to Holden will help the team’s competitiveness this year following an encouraging first test.
Reynolds had his first taste of the team’s ex-Walkinshaw Holden at Winton on Thursday, completing a full day of running ahead of the Clipsal 500 Adelaide.
Amid a drawn out exit from front-runners Prodrive, Reynolds signed with Erebus last October while the squad was running two Mercedes AMGs out of Queensland.
The team has since abandoned development of the German machines in favour of its customer Walkinshaw Commodores while hurriedly setting up a lean new operation in Melbourne.
Although the dramatic changes left Erebus just weeks to assemble a crew and prepare for the new season, Reynolds is adamant that the changes are for the better.
“It’s definitely a better situation,” Reynolds told Speedcafe.com, admitting he had no knowledge of the upcoming changes when the deal was signed.
“I was leaving Prodrive, which is one of the best teams in pitlane. Everything is very organised and they had the fastest cars last year.
“I was moving to Erebus, whose cars were pretty much down the back. It wasn’t a bad thing, but it was just going to be very different.
“But when I heard of the move to Holden I was very happy. That has worked in my favour.
“The HRT cars were ok last year and it’s our job to start with that and try and make it better.
“I’ve been telling everyone that cats always land on their feet.”
The new low-cost Erebus structure is somewhat unique, with minimal full-time engineering staff and equipment and a crew largely made up of youngsters.
Reynolds’ car is being engineered by Gold Coast-based Campbell Little, while the squad has contracted Walkinshaw’s Mathew Nilsson to work with team-mate Aaren Russell on race weekends.
“The team was started from scratch five weeks ago, so I don’t think it’s going to get any harder for them than it is right now,” Reynolds said.
“The team is quite young but there are some experienced heads in there that can hopefully lead them.
“As far as the engineering side goes, the fact that we don’t manufacturer anything means it’s fine to have people part-time.
“It’s a very different business model than we had before but, from what I can see, it’s a better one.”
Reynolds left Thursday’s test encouraged by progress, despite feeling far from comfortable in the car.
Although not having raced a Walkinshaw Holden since October, 2010, the Melbourne-based driver said the car’s ergonomics and basic handling traits were eerily familiar.
“It felt very, very, very different compared to what I’m used to,” he explained.
“As soon as I went out of pitlane I was like… I’m back in a HRT car again. It felt like it did ages ago.
“It was quite funny, it was really odd actually. Almost laughable.
“How the throttle is, how the brake is, the steering wheel, it’s obviously all designed around the one person.
“Even the handling traits were very similar to how I remember.
“It doesn’t really suit me, but I have to get used to it. It’s just a different way of thinking.
“It’s going to take time. It’s not really making sense to me, but we’re starting to understand it a little bit.
“We were relatively quick so I was happy.”
According to Erebus, Reynolds set the fastest time of the week at Winton, lapping 0.6s faster than Tim Slade’s best from Monday.
Russell also took to the track, but had his running cut short when an off at the Turn 5 sweeper damaged the front of the Plus Fitness Commodore.
Erebus was sharing the Victorian venue with Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport, which ran Nick Percat and new signing Andre Heimgartner in its new look SP Tools Holdens.