Triple Eight is not expecting a repeat of last year’s dominant showing at The Bend Motorsport Park, predicting that the track will play into the Ford Mustang’s strengths.
The factory Holden squad proved the team to beat in Supercars’ maiden OTR SuperSprint at the South Australia circuit, converting two Armor All Pole Positions into wins, shared between Jamie Whincup and Shane van Gisbergen.
Success at The Bend arrived as arch rivals Shell V-Power Racing struggled but it is likely the tables will be turned this year.
Heading to South Australia having won two of the last three races, Triple Eight is enjoying its best run of form this season as it continues to play catch up to the pace-setting DJR Team Penske Fords of Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard.
While keen to maintain its growing momentum, team manager Mark Dutton expects to face a stern challenge from Mustang teams with the car likely to suit The Bend’s fast and flowing layout.
“We’re not thinking we’re going to be dominating at all,” Dutton told Speedcafe.com.
“But we’re happy that we performed well last year and we can take a lot of that into this year as well. Some of it will definitely transfer from last year to this year and, as always, it’s just how much your opposition improved from one year to the next.
“The Mustang will be very, very quick we think, so we’re just going to be working as hard as to make sure that our cars are as quick as they can be, and as we have said all year at a race weekend in particular you control the controllables and that’s what we’re doing.
“For sure (the Mustang will come out of the blocks fast) and they’ve been doing that all year so there should be no reason at all that Tailem shouldn’t be the same for them.
“Sure, it’s the hard tyre as opposed to the soft, but that Mustang in particular at a high-speed, flowing circuit, it’s going to suit it to a tee.”
However, Triple Eight, like the majority of the paddock, has been working hard on developments in the three-week break to extract more speed from its ZB Commodores.
Dutton says it will have some new components to fit to its Holden at The Bend that are hoped to push the team forward.
“We’ve been pushing hard to try and keep building the momentum that we’ve had for the last couple of rounds,” added Dutton.
“We’ve taken up the opportunity to make some shiny bits for The Bend; nothing huge that will stand out, but some things that we hope will further improve our speed.”
Triple Eight drivers van Gisbergen and Whincup sit third and fifth respectively in the championship standings ahead of the OTR SuperSprint which begins on Friday.