Prodrive looks for test to turn season
Prodrive Racing Australia will use its second test day of the season ahead of Sydney Motorsport Park as it searches for a response to Triple Eight’s dominant form.
After an incredibly even start to the year that saw 10 winners from the first 12 races, Triple Eight has stamped its authority on the championship over the last three events.
Jamie Whincup, Shane van Gisbergen and Craig Lowndes have shared the last five race wins between them, including an emphatic one-two-three on Saturday.
The Holden squad had not scored a pole in the first 11 races, but is now on a run of four from the last six.
THE FINAL RACE OF THE 2023 REPCO SUPERCARS CHAMPIONSHIP ON ONE OF THE WORLD’S BEST STREET CIRCUITS. GO ALL IN AT THE VAILO ADELAIDE 500, CLICK HERE TO BUY TICKETS
Its success has come after a pre-Darwin test day that was hailed as a significant step forward by all three of its drivers.
Prodrive elected to hold onto its second of three days until after Ipswich and is now itching to explore a range of developments aimed primarily at improving tyre life.
Amid Triple Eight’s domination, the Ford team has asserted itself as the closest challenger, leaving its drivers encouraged that only minor improvements are needed to turn the tide.
Mark Winterbottom remains in the thick of the title battle in third, while Chaz Mostert has risen to ninth after his most complete weekend of the year to date, scoring a fifth and a third at Ipswich.
“The car has been pretty good over 20 laps but after that it struggles a bit,” said Mostert after running a shorter final stint than his closest rivals to take the final podium place in Race 17.
“We’ve got a bit more homework to do when we get back to the workshop on our tyre life with the soft tyre.
“We’ve got a test day coming up before Sydney and we’ll be trying some new stuff there.
“Fingers crossed we can find a little bit for these guys next door because they’re doing a pretty good job at the moment.”
Winterbottom led the standings before Darwin but is now 120 points adrift of Whincup.
The defending champion managed fourth and fifth in the weekend’s two races and is far from panicked by the state of play.
“You just go into survival mode really and count down the laps,” he said after struggling for speed and tyre life in Race 17.
“We’ll keep working and try and get quicker but it’s not for a lack of effort.
“The guys are working really hard and I’m confident we’ll be able to get the speed back like they’ve done so many times this year.”
Fellow Prodrive runners Cameron Waters and Chris Pither are 18th and 20th in the championship after mixed weekends.
Waters failed to start the first race thanks to a driveline failure, while a tangle with Rick Kelly – which resulted in a 10 point penalty for the Ford driver – and a three-stop strategy saw the youngster 16th on Sunday.
Pither meanwhile enjoyed a highly encouraging weekend, backing up a shock pole position on Saturday with solid runs to 11th and eighth in the races.