Chaz Mostert admitted it felt fantastic to just return to the practice top three at the Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint after a dismal campaign to date
The Tickford Racing driver showed encouraging signs of an upturn in form after finishing third fastest in Practice 2 at Queensland Raceway.
Mostert ended the 45 minute outing only 0.1s adrift of the pace set by Shane van Gisbergen in a session that saw three of the four Tickford Fords inside the top 10, with Mark Winterbottom fifth and Richie Stanaway in 10th spot.
It represented a positive start for the outfit that has scored a solitary podium finish in the 18 races to date.
While today’s running didn’t count for points or set the grid for this weekend’s races, Mostert was clearly buoyed to finally show pace to contend with the category’s front runners.
The circuit has proved to be a happy hunting ground in the past having been the venue for his maiden Supercars win in 2013 and one of his three recorded last season.
“The car’s obviously feeling good for me, but always had reasonably good running up here,” said Mostert.
“It’s good to come to a track that you go strong at, see where the car is
“Tomorrow (I’m) looking forward to make our car a little bit better. I still think there’s a little bit more time in it, but it feels fantastic to be up here, to be honest.”
The result arrives after claiming rare top five finish last time out at Townsville which is one of the few highlights of his year to date.
Reflecting on the comparisons to his form 12 months ago when he was fighting for the championship, the 26-year-old admitted to being blindsided by his team’s struggles this year.
Tickford has had to resort to testing in public at race events to address its shortfalls, which looks to now be bearing fruit.
“I had probably my best season to date last year, getting some wins and podiums and it was still good to be kind of in mathematical (championship) contention,” he added.
“It’s the first time I’ve had a season like that.
“To come into this year, (I was) kind of blindsided, to be honest by how far behind the eight ball we are.
“Obviously there were a few changes in the break and the car we ran last year just didn’t work this year.
“I think we were pretty lucky with how that car kind of worked last year, but at this stage it’s about a lot of hard work; going back through the book, trying things that you used to do or things that you were trying to chase and try and put it all together.”
The Coates Hire Ipswich SuperSprint continues tomorrow with a 45 minute practice at 1120 AEST.