Xiberras philosophical about PremiAir Racing debut

Peter Xiberras (right) with PremiAir Racing team manager Dan Ensor

Peter Xiberras looks back on his team’s first event in the Repco Supercars Championship with neutral feelings after glimpses of promise failed to materialise into results.

PremiAir Racing pulled off a stunning effort to build a Supercars team in less than two months, having only purchased remnants of the now defunct Team Sydney on January 12 this year.

Come Round 1 last weekend at Sydney Motorsport Park, the squad presented well with its Coca-Cola and Subway Commodores, and shapes to be a popular underdog in pit lane.

Xiberras can see past the sheer numbers that have it currently rooted to the bottom of the teams’ championship – behind the single-car Blanchard Racing Team – after recording a DNF and no race result better than 18th.

Chris Pither and Garry Jacobson qualified 13th and 17th respectively for Race 2, although the latter would be relegated to a pit lane start for leaving the pits on wet tyres before officials declared the track wet.

Other teething issues popped up across the weekend, with electrical problems hampering Pither’s Saturday running and ending Jacobson’s Sunday race.

All in all, it’s left Xiberras in a realistic frame of mind.

“The reality is, where we finished is probably where the team is at, at the moment, to be up front,” Xiberras reflected to Speedcafe.com.

“The fact that we didn’t test, we don’t have our full complement of staff – we have got a few people that we’re borrowing – so we’re just not the complete team yet. It’s our first run.

“Really, we probably finished where we’re at, but there were glimpses of speed and potential, especially on Sunday when Chris qualified 13th and got up to 10th [in the race].

“That showed us that we have got some pace. Garry, we missed the window, but if his last qualifying run counted, he would have been seventh.

“So there’s definitely positives, but do I walk away happy? No. But that’s just because we’re competitive and we want to do better and better.

“I think we have got the beginnings of a good team.

“I have got to say the vibe in the team is awesome; it’s a great vibe. I think if that’s our worst weekend ever, then I’ll be happy.”

Ex-Triple Eight staffer Scott “Shady” Wilkinson has now signed on for the rest of the season with PremiAir Racing, while Ken Douglas is likely to continue engineering Pither until at least the Albert Park round in April.

Xiberras admits the team’s full focus had been purely on getting to SMP and not beyond that.

“I had a lot of people come up to us and couldn’t believe the way we presented, so that was very encouraging to know that,” he added.

“So that side of the team was awesome; now we just have got to get the on-track performance to match what we look like and we’ll be on our way.”

Round 2 does present an opportunity for progress, Symmons Plains being a traditionally friendly track to Triple Eight Race Engineering and its customer teams (namely Team 18, Matt Stone Racing and PremiAir Racing this year).

Team 18 scored a pole position via Mark Winterbottom in 2019 at Symmons Plains, while MSR qualified on the second row last year courtesy of Zane Goddard.

The Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint will take place across March 26-27.

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