While it’s said teammates always want to beat one another in V8 Supercars racing, there is even more of a reason for the two DJR cars to want to come out on top at the Wilson Security Sandown 500.
Chaz Mostert has won a race and finished on the podium in his rookie season, while Tim Blanchard is coming off his best career result in V8 Supercars. And the competition is fierce between co-drivers, with car 12’s Dale Wood and 17’s Ash Walsh battling at the top of the points in the Dunlop Series, separated by just 162 points.
“There’s lots of rivalry between the two but they’re fighting out a Championship and still get along really well which is really important for us,” Blanchard told v8supercars.com.au.
“We haven’t had any issues so far between the two of them they get on well, which is important.”
Wood is the more experienced driver – of the four, in fact – while Walsh is running as a co-driver for the first time this year.
And while it has taken Blanchard some time to crack the top 10 this year, he is confident he and Walsh can achieve throughout the longer PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
“Our race pace has been as good as Chaz’s this year, but I haven’t qualified anywhere near as well.
“No one is expecting us anywhere near the top 10, but I’m quite confident we’ll be right.”
Blanchard has been happy with his race pace all season, though he hasn’t been able to put a lap together in qualifying. But the endurance races mean less emphasis on qualifying, in his opinion, and more opportunity to use that car speed throughout the durance of the races.
“When we qualify in the mid-field we can comfortably challenge for the top 10.
“Short race formats this year and average qualifying positions have really hurt us, so I’m looking forward to the longer distance races.
“They will suit our strengths more.”
The top 10 finishes couldn’t come at a better time, to spur on the improving team.
At the end of yesterday’s practice the #17 Falcon was 26th, but Blanchard wasn’t worried, as they didn’t get a proper run on green tyres.
“We should be right. Another practice session (this morning) to have another look at our green tyre pace and go from there.”
It was a weight off his shoulders to finally get a good result on the board at Winton, scoring a top 10 finish and his best in V8 Supercars.
“It was a massive relief – I’ve been close a number of times now, certain things have turned around … We probably just had a race with no issues and were able to get a result. So things are definitely turning around.
“Two cars in the top 10 (at the last event) and everyone at DJR was pretty excited.”
Further, Blanchard is not locked in with DJR for next year, so a strong showing throughout the PIRTEK Enduro Cup could help secure his future in the series.
“Absolutely – it’s critical,” Blanchard said when asked whether results at the long distance races would affect his future.
“We’re pretty keen to stay at DJR. The future is bright here.
“Campbell (Little) has come on-board and there have been changes in the team, which is very much a dark horse in next year’s Championship.
“I’m keen to be a part of it – but to get an opportunity in a team like this you need to earn it, prove we deserve it.”