Fabian Coulthard has expressed his lament at being hung wide on the opening lap after finishing 10th in Race 1 at the Superloop Adelaide 500.
Coulthard started from 11th having missed the Top 10 Shootout by 0.0556s and maintained that position through Senna Chicane.
The Shell V-Power Racing Team driver then ended up stuck on the outside through the terraces, a situation exacerbated by being behind the Nick Percat ZB Commodore which had a failed steering rack, and finished the standing lap in 14th position.
Coulthard gradually rose to the lead during the opening stint, but only by virtue of those in front of him pitting, and promptly resumed in 14th position after he too stopped.
His second stint was a replica of the first, except that the New Zealander rejoined in an effective 12th.
He dived past compatriot Andre Heimgartner at Turn 11 on Lap 61 and picked off Lee Holdsworth on Lap 64, but could not quite find a way by Rick Kelly before the chequered flag.
Coulthard remains confident that he has more pace than he could display in the first 78 racing laps of the season.
“It wasn’t a bad race. I got a really good start, but I just chose the wrong lane going through the staircase and got bottled up behind Percat,” he recalled.
“We were out of position, got dragged back a fair bit in that first stint and once we got past that car we actually had really good pace.
“We moved forward, but didn’t need that setback on the first lap.
“We’ve now got a race under our belts, we have an idea of how the car is going to go and have a direction on where we need to head with it for tomorrow.”
In the other DJR Team Penske Mustang, Scott McLaughlin finished second in no small part by being released into clean air.
The back-to-back champion started a relatively lowly seventh after a ragged Shootout lap but jumped to the nominal lead through the middle stint of the race by being first to pit on Lap 7.
He maintained an effective second for the balance of the race, taking the chequered flag just over five seconds behind Jamie Whincup.
“It’s a credit to the team here at Shell V-Power Racing, that strategy was awesome,” said McLaughlin.
“My car pace in traffic wasn’t that good, so getting me into fresh air and allowing me to hustle was really good.
“We need to improve the car in traffic, or qualify on pole and lead tomorrow.”
Coulthard will start from the first part of today’s Qualifying session, which starts at 11:50 local time/12:20 AEDT.