Fabian Coulthard is relishing an opportunity to build on DJR Team Penske’s ‘massive step forward’ following an impressive start at the Tyrepower Tasmania Super Sprint.
The challenging Symmons Plains circuit is seen as an acid test for DJRTP’s 2017 prospects having struggled for outright pace at the venue in previous seasons.
After showcasing impressive speed at the Clipsal 500, and its domination of the non-championship Australian Grand Prix meeting, the American/Australian alliance continued its strong form in Friday practice.
Coulthard emerged second fastest just 0.08s adrift of Red Bull HRT pacesetter Shane van Gisbergen, while his Shell V-Power Racing team-mate Scott McLaughlin was fourth on combined times.
The Kiwi believes the team has vastly improved its package compared to what it rolled out at the Tasmanian circuit 12 months ago.
However, he is fully aware the job is only partially complete as preparations begin for final practice and qualifying ahead of today’s 50 lap race.
“We really struggled here last year,” Coulthard told Speedcafe.com.
“It is good for my confidence and it is nice to be running at the front.
“Last year was tough and we definitely learned some things. We have been running at the front at the GP, Clipsal and the test so hopefully we can just keep building on the momentum.
“Everyone here has been doing a fantastic job and we have been to four tracks now and we have been somewhat competitive.
“It’s massive, it is a real step forward but without getting too far ahead ourselves it was only practice.
“We fired our first shots along with everybody else but we have to do it when it counts.”
While the rivalry between DJRTP and Triple Eight continues to grow, the New Zealander says this weekend is far from being decided among the two teams.
“The signs so far are good but Triple Eight have always been fast here but if we can be pretty close we shall leave here pretty happy,” he added.
“We can draw some comparisons (between ourselves and Triple Eight in terms of pace), but there is always the odd person that can pop up at this place. It is not a two horse race by any means.”
The Supercars field will contest a final 45 minute practice at 1130 AEST ahead of a 15 minute qualifying session (1350) and this afternoon’s 50 lap race (1645).