Fabian Coulthard is confident DJR Team Penske has the tools to mount a serious challenge this year but admits it will take time for the team’s new personnel to gel.
The New Zealander is preparing for his second season at the Queensland squad which is hotly tipped to become a regular contender for podiums in the 2017 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.
This year the team welcomes former Garry Rogers Motorsport driver Scott McLaughlin to the fold, while the engineering department has acquired former long serving Triple Eight technical guru Ludo Lacroix.
Coulthard, a five-times Supercars race winner, says the mood in the camp is high coming into the new season with the squad focussed on working hard to close the gap to the front runners.
Excited by the arrival of Lacroix, he expects the team to make strides once the Frenchman is fully settled into operation.
“I think we can only build on last year, it is not a small hill to climb it is a relatively big one,” Coulthard told Speedcafe.com.
“We need to buckle down and work hard to make the cars a little bit better, so we can put ourselves in a position to contend for those podiums.
“We want to win races and achieve regular podiums but there is fair hill to climb first.
“It is such a team sport so we need all the pieces of the puzzle to gel and work together.
“I’m confident we have got a good group of guys with Scotty (McLaughlin) coming on board.
“He is a proven race winner like I have been so we will work hard together and move forward.
“Ludo has got some good ideas and I think he will offer a lot to the team.
“It is going to take a while for us to see the benefits I believe, but we have all got the same common goal in mind to move this team forward as a group.”
The arrival of McLaughlin to DJRTP promises to deliver a fascinating team-mate battle with the fellow Kiwi a rising star in the field having finished third in the championship last year.
Coulthard is relishing the challenge which he feels will also help lift the team to another level.
“Working together is definitely the goal,” he said.
“There is nothing healthier than having two fast guys in the team.
“It definitely brings the team forward and I’m expecting to learn a lot and hopefully Scott can learn a bit from me.”
In addition to a new-team-mate, Coulthard will work alongside a new co-driver in the Pirtek Enduro Cup following the confirmation last month that Tony D’Alberto will switch to the #12 Falcon.
D’Alberto partnered Scott Pye at the team last year and has been drafted in as a replacement for Luke Youlden, who has driven with Coulthard in the enduros since 2013.
Following extensive statistical analysis from the team, Coulthard admits D’Alberto is the best man for the job.
“Everything happens for a reason,” he added.
“It was not an easy decision but at the end of the day there are the statistics and the team is very statistic based.
“He (Tony) was the best man for the job.
“He did a solid job last year and Luke (Youlden) did a great job but the decision was to go with Tony.
“I have got faith in my people and I have faith in Tony.”