Winterbottom reveals pre-Tasmania Team 18 test

Team 18 held a test day between the Perth and Tasmania Supercars events. Picture: InSyde Media

Team 18 held a test day between the Perth and Tasmania Supercars events. Picture: InSyde Media

Team 18 tested in recent weeks following a disappointing showing in the previous event of the Repco Supercars Championship, Mark Winterbottom has revealed.

The 2015 Supercars champion was eighth-fastest in Practice 1 at this weekend’s Ned Whisky Tasmania SuperSprint, an improvement on its showing three weeks earlier at Perth’s Wanneroo Raceway when he finished no higher than 18th in any of the three races and team-mate Scott Pye scored a solitary top 10.

Speaking after opening practice at Symmons Plains, Winterbottom said, “It’s funny, you’re not capable of going to engineer something because we’ve all got the same components, so you can literally turn around last into a round that’s first in two weeks if you get the numbers right.

“We underperformed, we’re realistic, Perth was not enough, we definitely weren’t.

“So, we tested in between Perth and here because we needed to, and that session then, we were top 10 all session, which is good.

“You know, I want to be top three every session, so a little bit of work to do but everyone works hard.

“They’re a great crew here and we’ve got the right people; we’ve just got to mix all the ingredients and it’ll come, so we need a good result.”

A Team 18 spokesperson declined to comment when Speedcafe sought further details on the test, although it would presumably have run both Winterbottom’s #18 DeWalt Camaro and Pye’s #20 entry, at Winton, given it does not have scope to test them separately now that the season has begun.

The Mount Waverley-based squad now competes independently rather than in an alliance with Triple Eight Race Engineering.

Prior to the Wanneroo event, it had completed a shakedown for both cars, the official pre-season test, and then ‘Test Day #1’, which also had to be taken before the start of the season, at Winton on March 1.

Any subsequent test would come out of its remaining allocation of ‘Test Day #3’ and ‘Test Day #4’, per Rule D1 of the Supercars Operations Manual.

Reflecting on his Practice 1 at Symmons Plains, Winterbottom said he enjoyed his first experience of the Launceston venue in a low-downforce, Gen3 race car.

“We had a pretty good session,” he remarked.

“I can feel where the car’s like losing time, which is good. As a driver, sometimes we can say, ‘I don’t know where it is,’ and it feels like the car is good, and other times you can clearly see where it is.

“Now we’re going to try and work on it. The key is to keep our strengths and not lose them, and then improve the weaknesses.

“All in all, good. These cars are a lot of fun here too. I think the Gen3 car has been different from track to track, but here it’s actually a lot of fun.

“They turn at the hairpin and that back straight, it feels like you’re going 10km/h quicker, which I think we are.

“It’s good. I love driving it here and just tune up the weaknesses.”

Pye was 17th in Practice 1, with the next session due at 10:55 local time/AEST.

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