Shell V-Power Racing is buoyant about its prospects in the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000, where it maintains that ‘you don’t necessarily need to have the fastest car to win.’
Scott McLaughlin and Alexandre Premat were the best of the rest behind Triple Eight’s dominant trio in the Rabble.Club Sandown 500 as the #17 FGX Falcon finished almost 17 seconds off the podium.
However, DJR Team Penske Managing Director Ryan Story maintains that his squad is still a strong chance of victory due to the unpredictable nature of Bathurst and the work which the team has put in since leaving Sandown.
“We’ve worked incredibly hard over the last few weeks to find some additional pace in our Falcons as we head to the Bathurst 1000,” said Story.
“With the 2018 edition of the race marking the final outing at the mountain for the famous Falcon nameplate, we’re doing everything we can to send the legend out in style.
“We expect it to be a very tough battle, as our Holden rivals have got a very good handle on their ZB Commodores, as demonstrated by their speed at Sandown.
“We’ve prepared as best we possibly can, and we know that our drivers will give it everything they’ve got to earn a strong result.
“Scott and Fabian (Coulthard) are again joined by the talented and reliable Alex Prémat and Tony D’Alberto, who have proven themselves to be brilliant support over the last couple of years.
“The thing about Bathurst is that you don’t necessarily need to have the fastest car to win. You need to have a good, clean run, have a strong reliable car and be there in the last 25 laps to be in with a chance.
“Anything can happen in this race, and we feel that we are ready for anything.”
The Sandown result was a stark contrast to the pace which McLaughlin in particular displayed at Mount Panorama 12 months ago, when the New Zealander laid down the fastest ever Supercar lap during the Armor All Top 10 Shootout.
On that weekend, however, Car #17 failed to make half race distance due to an engine problem.
It was the third heartbreaker for McLaughlin in four years after he hit the wall while running in a promising position in 2014 and was a victim of the infamous three-way clash with Jamie Whincup and Garth Tander in 2016.
“The time for talking is done, and it’s time to hit the track,” said the 25-year-old ahead of his seventh Bathurst 1000 start.
“We only get one chance here each year, and while taking the lap record was one of the best moments of my career, I still haven’t achieved a podium finish in the great race.
“That’s something I really want to fix, and I reckon we’ve got the tools to do the job this year. We have the best team in pit lane and they are lightning fast in the stops.
“It’s all up to us now, and I can’t wait to hit the track.”
Coulthard and D’Alberto finished on the final step of the podium in last year’s Great Race and seventh at Sandown last month.
The Virgin Australia Supercars Championship field will be first on-track tomorrow at 0935 local time/AEST.