Dutton dismisses parity imbalance chatter
Wednesday 21st April, 2021 - 6:00am
Triple Eight Race Engineering team manager Mark Dutton has dismissed suggestions there is a parity imbalance between the Ford Mustang and Holden Commodore.
Tickford Racing driver Cameron Waters reignited the parity debate at the Tasmania SuperSprint after Shane van Gisbergen secured his sixth straight Supercars win of 2021.
The latter swiftly hosed down those claims, pointing out he had been lucky to win the opening race at the Mount Panorama 500.
Van Gisbergen noted that Sandown and Symmons Plains had traditionally been strongholds for his team and expected the Ford squads to bounce back at The Bend next month.
Waters took back-to-back pole positions for Sunday’s races at Symmons Plains, putting to bed any parity debate in Dutton’s opinion.
“I think you saw [on Sunday] how evident that is,” Dutton told Speedcafe.com.
“We changed the cars ever so slightly for qualifying and were P-nowhere. People who were looking for parity were up the front.
“Qualifying is always the ultimate pace and that’s what dictates the parity of the car as such.
“Obviously race pace is important too, but ultimate pace is the main thing. I think that was proven.”
The changes came in a bid to reduce temperature in the engine bay that had been causing mechanical failures last season, particularly for the Triple Eight Race Engineering-built cars; also covering Team 18, Matt Stone Racing, and Team Sydney.
Other teams battled power steering, anti-roll bar, and engine coil troubles as the year wore on.
“It was to try and get rid of the extra temperature under the bonnet,” Dutton said when asked if the adjustment had led to any advantage.
“If you do the flip side, then you can say how much it hurt us last year. We effectively lost the championship because of that, because of the increase in under-bonnet temperatures.
“The failures we had on the #97 in particular. You add up those points and last year’s championship is a different story.
“You can look at a picture from any way you want to make it. That doesn’t help the cars performance-wise. It’s a little bit of reliability which helps as well.”
Nevertheless, Dutton said the streak of success for the team has largely been down to van Gisbergen’s headstart on the field.
After winning last year’s Bathurst 1000 he headed home where he raced rally cars, single-seaters, and speedway midgets.
Dutton noted the New Zealander’s heightened commitment.
“He’s got impressive form,” said Dutton.
“He’s been racing all off-season, so he hasn’t had an off-season. For me, he’s been the best prepared driver.
“He’s stepped it up a big level. We see that on track, we see that outside of the car in pre-briefs, de-briefs, et cetera. It’s awesome to see.
“I think the off-season meant that he hit the ground running better than other drivers. That’s a big point as well.
“We’ve seen Shane over the years, the more he’s driving, the more he’s in the seat, the better he is. His match fitness is incredible, and his overall fitness is at an all-time high.”
Van Gisbergen leads the championship by 139 points from nearest rival and team-mate Jamie Whincup.