DJRTP set for late night in search of Bend speed

Tom Howard

Friday 24th August, 2018 - 7:08pm

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Scott McLaughlin ended Friday practice in 12th spot

Engineers at the Shell V-Power Racing team are set for a late night as the squad looks to find answers to its significant shortfall in pace following the opening day at the OTR SuperSprint.

The reigning Supercars teams’ champions struggled to unlock pace from their Ford Falcons at the all-new Bend Motorsport Park circuit, ending the day with series leader Scott McLaughlin 13th and Fabian Coulthard in 24th spot.

Regular pacesetter McLaughlin was more than two seconds shy of title rival Shane van Gisbergen as the Red Bull Holden Racing Team enjoyed a dominant margin over the field.

Coulthard fared even worse with the #12 car 2.6s off the pace (and 3.3s in Practice 2).

Today’s two 45 minute sessions were the first outings at the 4.95km track for McLaughlin and Coulthard while van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup had both logged laps in GT3 cars earlier in the year.

Shell V-Power Racing had elected to base its preparation for tackling the new venue around the use of simulators and on-board vision.

Managing director Ryan Story admitted to Speedcafe.com that team’s engineers are set for a long night as the outfit aims to tune up its cars for tomorrow.

Although, he believes the squad will not have to reinvent the wheel in regards to its set-ups to find gains.

“We have got a bit of work to do overnight,” Story told Speedcafe.com.

“Both drivers were reporting similar things in terms of what they were chasing with the balance of the car, so we just need to think about that and tune it up overnight.

“It is pretty loose (out there) and it is like that for everyone and that is what were are getting from the guys.

“I think it is going to be a couple small things (that we need to look at) and a case of reviewing the onboard and having a look at where some of the opportunities (to make time up) are.

“I am and I’m not (surprised by the field spread).

“It is a long fast circuit and if you are not near the window then you are going to be a long way off the pace and I think that is what we are seeing.

“Race weekends are a constant evolutionary process and you need to keep chipping away at it. When you are happy with things that is when you will get left behind.

“We have to work hard overnight and try and get the cars closer to the window and see some (lap) times that reflect that.”

McLaughlin believes there is time to be found from improvements to both the car and his own driving.

“We’re not too bad, but we’re not at the optimum pace we need to be and know we can be,” said McLaughlin.

“There’s plenty for me to work on in my driving, and plenty for Ludo (Lacroix) to work on in the car.

“We’ve got another session tomorrow morning, and we’ve got to get it together then and hopefully have a direction before qualifying.”

Team-mate Coulthard had clocked the 10th fastest time in opening practice before a couple of errors on his final lap saw the Kiwi slip down the order in Friday’s final outing.

“Practice 1 was good, learning the track and coming to grips with it pretty quickly,” said Coulthard.

“We didn’t change the car too much from P1 to P2, but it felt quite different, so we made some changes to try to improve it.

“We’ll go through everything overnight and try to make it better. I made a couple of small errors on my final flyer, locking up a couple of times.

“(The) Good thing is we have another practice tomorrow morning before qualifying, where we’ll be aiming to be somewhere up the front.”

Supercars will return to the track tomorrow with a final 45 minute practice at 1035 ahead of Armor All Qualifying at 1320 with a 24 lap race to follow at 1620 local time.

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