Late-season test gives Grove Adelaide edge

Grove Racing saved a test day for the run in to the Adelaide 500. Image: Russell Colvin

Grove Racing saved a test day for the run in to the Adelaide 500. Image: Russell Colvin

Penrite Racing will head to next week’s Vailo Adelaide 500 armed with enhanced knowledge of the new Ford Mustang aerodynamic package thanks to a late-season test day.

With Matt Payne in his first full season in the Repco Supercars Championship, the Braeside-based squad is entitled to three extra test days for the New Zealander, the last of which it used at Winton on Tuesday.

The latest Mustang aerodynamic package is but one event old, after an official parity review was triggered at the Repco Bathurst 1000, and may only last one event more given the off-season wind tunnel testing which is about to take place.

The Ford teams had to learn on the fly at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast 500, but Grove Racing now also has a test day with the new package under its belt.


“The reason we left it late was due to the aero changes,” Team Principal David Cauchi told Speedcafe.

“We haven’t had a very consistent run with the car that we’ve been racing so, although it doesn’t seem logical to leave your test day so late, in this instance we did do that so we could spend a bit of time learning this new aero package.

“So, not ideal, and if we had a more consistent package throughout the year, we probably wouldn’t have done it at this time, but as it turned out, that was the main motivation for leaving one up our sleeve for later in the season.

“I don’t think you ever fully get your head around any car,” he added, “but it was certainly an opportunity to explore a few things, find the boundaries of this package, and make sure that we can go to Adelaide and put our best foot forward and finish the year on a positive note.”

Grove did, of course, put a good foot forward last time out on the Gold Coast, with David Reynolds delivering its first win as a standalone operation and Payne scoring a front row start before narrowly missing the podium on the following day.

While both Surfers Paradise and Adelaide are street circuits, the task changes in the South Australian capital next week.

“Yes, they are both street circuits, but definitely the Gold Coast is more about the kerbing; that’s a huge element of the set-up of the car for the Gold Coast,” explained Cauchi.

“Adelaide is still a street circuit and it’s still sort of bumpy but it’s actually high-grip, there’s a lot more cornering as well, and then you’ve got the higher-speed sections – Turn 8 and then through Turn 10, Turn 11 – it’s quite sort of medium- [to] high-speed, fast, flowing.

“Adelaide’s quite a good mix of low-speed through the staircase and then your high-speed through the back, so actually very different circuits.”

The Winton test had another benefit, giving Payne more time in a Supercar in the wet and more time on the new-for-2023 wet tyre which has barely been used yet.

“We got a bit of work in, in the morning, and then some wet running, which is not necessarily ideal but we haven’t done much running on this new wet tyre,” recounted Cauchi.

“It was quite good to be able to run on that tyre and give Matt some miles in the wet on that rubber, and then back to the dry programme for the afternoon.

“So, a mixed day, but I still think we got a fair bit out of it.”

Practice in Adelaide starts next Thursday.

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