Whincup: It will take time to understand new Holden
Jamie Whincup expects it could take Triple Eight as many as three rounds to understand how to extract the most out of its new ZB Commodore.
The defending Supercars champion will be among a group of 14 drivers who will pilot the latest generation Holden Supercar aero package in 2018, which kicks-off at this weekend’s Adelaide 500.
Holden teams will head into the season opener with limited knowledge of their new Commodores having generally only conducted shakedown runs and a test day at Sydney Motorsport Park in the lead up to the new campaign.
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“I don’t think the new car is any better or worse than the previous but it is certainly different,” Whincup told Speedcafe.com.
“I believe it will take two or three rounds at least to really work out what this car wants and to get the most out of it.
“I don’t think anyone is fully happy with there they are at.
“We are compromised in some ways, well the Holden guys, having built new cars. We have been in better positions going into Adelaide but we have also been in worse.
“It is early days. Maybe we are taking a step backwards to make two steps forward and we are hoping that is the case.
“We didn’t get as much done as we would have liked at the Sydney test.
“The car ran smooth and reliable all day which was good. We made some big wholesale changes which took a lot of time which cut down the laps we could do in the end.”
The birth of the new ZB Commodore has not been straightforward for teams in the lead up to the new season with a delay in the manufacturing of parts following the late homologation sign off from Supercars.
However, all 14 cars ran at the test day and a suite of spare parts are expected to arrive in time for the first race of the season, which will be the car’s first true test.
“A new car means all new panel work so there will be a bit of extra stress there to make sure all the panels are as good as they can especially in a race condition,” added Whincup.
“We want to make sure all the new panels can take a hit if needed, but it is one of the biggest race meetings of the year and we will put our best foot forward.”
Switching his focus to the race weekend, Whincup admits there are plenty of unknowns with the car, which will increase the importance of the opening practice session of the season on Friday.
However, he expects the competition to arrive from the likes of reigning teams’ champions Shell V-Power Racing and fellow Ford squad Tickford Racing again.
“Practice is always important and no more so than this weekend,” he said.
“We will adapt with the conditions like what we always do and do our best job on the day.
“Some other teams may have done a huge job over the break. Brad Jones Racing were very fast in the test.
“We will just focus on our own performance and we are not 100 percent sure where the competition will come from but the usual culprits from last year will be there or thereabouts.”
Opening practice of the new Virgin Australia Supercars Championship season will begin on Friday at 0945 local time.