Pither sets sights on SMP after ‘big milestone’

Chris Pither. Picture: Rhys Vandersyde

PremiAir Racing’s Chris Pither has hailed his first hitout of the year in the #22 Holden ZB Commodore a success, despite inclement weather at Queensland Raceway.

The Kiwi completed 10 laps at the Ipswich circuit on Wednesday alongside new team-mate Garry Jacobson.

Although a full-blown test day had to be scrapped due to rain, the shakedown gave the team a chance to dust the cobwebs off its cars ahead of the season-opener next weekend.

The run came just two days after the team’s launch at Cbus Super Stadium, home to the Gold Coast Titans NRL team.

The shakedown saw procedural tasks completed, including familiarisation with radios, drink systems, cool suits, and driver ergonomics.

“The day was a big milestone, to be honest,” Pither said, speaking with Speedcafe.com.

“The team has been under the pump for the last six weeks and just to make it to the launch on Monday was a feat in itself.

“[Launch day] was a massive day too, getting the car set up. They’ve been apart so much. Everything needed to be reset in the cars, so the guys had a big day setting them up.

“The objective for the [test] day was simply to just do all the procedural checks, make sure there were no abnormalities with the car and the way that it was driving. Make sure ergonomically the cars were comfortable for both drivers.

“I personally wanted to get an understanding of how the dash worked and all that side of things. It was definitely just about doing systems checks and we managed to achieve that.

“There were a couple of issues early on that were quickly rectified and I feel really happy with the way it ran and have much more confidence now that we can roll the cars out at Sydney and focus on looking for speed.”

A key off-season refresh saw the cars go to Triple Eight Race Engineering and undergo an extensive refurbishment.

That in itself was welcomed by the 35-year-old.

“From a perspective of the cars, the guys have done an awesome job in preparing them,” he said.

“They’ve done an extensive amount of work and the cars run flawlessly. For us, it puts us in a much stronger position going to Sydney.”

For Pither, this year marks a full-time return to the Repco Supercars Championship after a year off the grid.

Although it’s the first season for PremiAir Racing, the third-year driver is setting some lofty long-term goals.

“For me, I guess I have more long-term expectations, and the expectation is to win,” said Pither.

“That may sound ambitious at this point in time, and it’s obviously not going to happen tomorrow, it’s going to take time to move forward, but everyone who is involved is passionate. I think that’s really important and stems from Peter [Xiberras, team principal] at the top.

“He’s very hungry and competitive, and we’re all doing this because we want to be at the front. It sounds ambitious saying that now, but at the end of the day, we’re aiming high. We’ll go to Sydney and see what it brings.

“We’ve got our own internal targets that we want to meet at Sydney, but we’re going there with the aim to just put our best foot forward and create some good foundations that we can build on at the next round and continue to push forward.”

The Beaurepaires Sydney SuperNight kicks off the 2022 Supercars Championship across March 4-6.

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