Dane demands Triple Eight qualifying improvement
Triple Eight boss Roland Dane fears his team will continue to be beaten in races unless it does a better job in qualifying.
The team’s winless streak was extended to eight races after leaving Darwin with a pair of podiums, one apiece for Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup as its best results.
Qualifying has proved to be an area of weakness this season as the squad continues to understand how to extract the best outright pace from its new ZB Commodore package.
Triple Eight headed to Darwin eager to translate learnings from a test day into qualifying pace.
Whincup scored the team’s best qualifying result with a third for Race 16 after a fifth proved to be the three car squad’s best in Race 15.
Dane says the display was simply not good enough, stating his squad must get a grip on qualifying to return to the top step of the podium.
He feels a more scientific approach is required to rectify its pace over one lap.
Scott McLaughlin converted a front row start into a win on Saturday while David Reynolds won from fourth on Sunday.
“Our qualifying wasn’t good enough and unless we qualify better, we’re going to get beaten,” Dane told Speedcafe.com.
“Our race pace is good, I’ve got no real issue with that, the cars were strong in race form, but we’ve got to qualify better and frankly we haven’t done a good job of that this weekend, so we need to make sure that at Townsville we’ve got a grip on it.
“It isn’t (tricky to find increments of improvements), it’s do(ing) our job properly.
“To be honest, we’ve done it for years, we know how to do it, and we just haven’t done it properly.
“It’s not a black art; we’re not being scientific enough about it, about our approach to it.
“We know perfectly well how to do it, we’ve got the tools to do it; we just need to actually do a better job.
“Certainly, we learned some things at the test day; I wasn’t there but I think it was worthwhile.
“But at the end of the day, test days are irrelevant if we’re not converting into race results.
“We’ve had a couple of podiums and we’ve minimised the bleeding this weekend but we’re 30-odd points further back than we started at this weekend, which is the wrong way, so we need to do something about that.”
The weekend did see Whincup end his six race run without a podium with a hard fought third on Sunday after finishing eighth on Saturday.
The reigning champion was much happier with the balance of his ZB Commodore but admits there is more refinement required.
He also believes he could have snared second had he not stalled in the pits during Sunday’s race, which was won by Erebus Motorsport’s Reynolds.
“My car’s much better, needs refinement but certainly (I’m) happier this weekend than we were three or four weeks ago at Winton,” said Whincup.
“It just stalled. Just a bit too much throttle and it stalled.
“Potentially we could have got second, we were probably good for second, but no one was touching Dave (Reynolds). His team are on a roll down there.”
Whincup is 433 points adrift of championship leader McLaughlin (Shell V-Power Racing), while van Gisbergen is 161 points behind the fellow Kiwi.
Craig Lowndes in the operation’s third entry endured two fairly quiet runs to seventh and 10th in the two races after qualifying 12th and 14th respectively.
The championship heads to Townsville on July 6-8.