De Pasquale opens up on lacklustre Winton

Anton De Pasquale offers his views on Winton struggles, heading to a stronger Shell V-Power Racing Team venue in Darwin next, and co-driver news in his latest exclusive The Distiller column for Speedcafe.com.

There’s no sugarcoating it: Winton was a tough weekend for me, Will and the Shell V-Power Racing Team.

We strive to be up the front week in, week out competing for podiums and race wins, but we just never quite recovered from a slow start last weekend.

It had of course been three years since we (as a Queensland-based team) had been there – even Triple Eight got to test there with Broc in the lead-up, so there was always potential to be playing catch-up.

It is an awesome little track though.

It’s one of the cool places we go to where a high amount of the spectators are camping there, so on the track walk, the first time you go out the back there’s heaps of campers and heaps of people bumping in, which is cool to see.

The track is fun to drive, sometimes frustrating to race because it is tight and twisty, but it makes you work for it and it’s such a physical lap.

In the race you’re sort of high grip so you’re pushing hard all of the time and your body doesn’t get much of a break because there’s not much straight, so it’s surprisingly one of the more physical races you do.

Anyway, so yeah, Winton threw some curveballs at us that we weren’t expecting, and being a two-day SuperSprint format, you are time poor when trying to recover ground.

We improved across the weekend and it was good to qualify a bit higher for the last race. If we went back there now, I think we would probably be half alright, just having that couple of days to go through everything properly and re-evaluate things.

We have ideas and philosophies that we think could help, but I guess we weren’t in a position where the car felt really good and we were off the pace.

Anton De Pasquale at Winton Motor Raceway. Picture: Mark Horsburgh

The pace was representative of what we were feeling; it’s not like we were happy. Sometimes you feel like you’re good enough to be on pole and you’re in that half a second off sort of range, and that’s when it is difficult to find stuff sometimes, but it didn’t feel fast. It was a handful, so it wasn’t a big surprise.

On weekends like that, you just have to maximise as much as possible, and at least we were able to walk away with three top 10s and no DNFs. The crew did an amazing job on pit stops too, as they have all year.

Although it wasn’t us, it was good to see some Ford wins.

Shane is still the guy to beat but hopefully our turn isn’t far away – and we’re about to head to Darwin which was a good place for us last year.

Between me and Will, we got all three poles, so we have got some good information which should help us start a lot more on the front foot.

And since my last column, it’s been announced that I’ll be with Tony D’Alberto again for the Bathurst 1000.

Last year we ran a pretty good race and were in a podium position throughout but never quite had the speed to challenge the first couple, so hopefully we’re a little bit faster this time around.

Tony is an awesome co-driver, he obviously nailed the start last year and led the first lap, so hopefully we lead a few more…

Cheers for your support, we’ll try to give plenty of reason to cheer in Darwin in a few weeks’ time.

Anton

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