Schwerkolt confident Triple Eight tie-up will work

Team 18 has bought the prototype ZB chassis which was raced once by Jamie Whincup last year

Irwin Racing team owner Charlie Schwerkolt is confident his squad’s technical partnership with Triple Eight will pay dividends in the 2019 Virgin Australia Supercars Championship.

The alliance with Triple Eight is one of a number of sweeping changes at the squad, which has seen Mark Winterbottom arrive in place of Lee Holdsworth along with a number of other key signings.

Schwerkolt hopes the closer relationship with Triple Eight will deliver improved results.

“It’s a true partnership now and really, you can tell it’s all there, everything’s there,” Schwerkolt told Speedcafe.com.

“This is a two way street; we’ve got stuff for them as well, so it’s going to work well – it’s got to work well and I know it will.

“We’re putting everything in, everything we’ve got; we’re paying for it so we’re getting a lot back,” he added.

“We’re getting everything back. The cars are the same as Whincup’s and Gizzy’s cars.

“I want to deliver everything I possibly can for Mark’s success. That’s my plan and everything’s in place to do that.”

Irwin Racing effectively swapped the car driven by Holdsworth last season for the prototype ZB Commodore developed by Triple Eight, taking delivery of the car at Queensland Raceway yesterday.

It’s the same chassis used by Jamie Whincup during the ITM Auckland SuperSprint towards the end of last season after a crash on the Gold Coast left his car too badly damaged to repair in time for the flyaway event.

The handover process including a 10-lap shakedown which was attended by David Cauchi, Whincup’s race engineer, and left both Schwerkolt and Winterbottom enthused at their prospects for the year ahead.

Speaking to Speedcafe.com following his first laps in a Holden Supercar, Winterbottom admitted that he understood why Triple Eight has been so successful.

“I feel they take it seriously,” Winterbottom said.

“They think that we’re not just going to flop around and not just buying a car and they think that we’re going to be competitive.

“I feel that they think that they can work with us and get something back, which is cool.”

Alongside the arrival of a new chassis are a number of key signings, which began last season with race engineer Phil Keed arriving from DJR Team Penske, while former Paul Weel Racing and Eggleston Motorsport staffer Steve Henderson has joined the squad as Team Manager.

“That’s all really good, great people,” Schwerkolt said.

“Really, really quality people.

“(We have a) New enduro driver which we’ll announce next week, Phil’s onboard, he’s been there for a while now and also a new team manager, Steve.

“So it’s a great group of people, and the same stability with the crew and all that sort of stuff. All the ingredients are there.”

The team will now transport its new chassis back to its Melbourne base where it will refine the car for Winterbottom ahead of a pre-season test and the opening event of the season next month.

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