James Moffat believes Wilson Security Garry Rogers Motorsport is over the mechanical issues it suffered from last season, as he looks forward to starting his 2016 season with the team.
While the Volvo S60s had pace, Scott McLaughlin and then-teammate David Wall were plagued with mechanical issues throughout last season. McLaughlin called the year “character building” after a stellar 2014 that saw him finish in the top five in the championship.
But with results and reliability improving in the second half of the season, Moffat is excited to join close friend McLaughlin and push toward the front.
“Everything they’ve told me they’ve been working on over the break – in terms of some of the reliability issues they had in 2015 – they definitely feel more confident that they’re on top of it,” Moffat told v8supercars.com.au.
“During the second half of the year the results they were able to achieve – not only race results but the reliability – has given the team a bit more confidence to feel like they’re heading in the right direction in terms of all that stuff.”
The S60s surprised at the Clipsal 500 in 2014 when McLaughlin earned a second place finish after an outstanding battle with champion Jamie Whincup. He won four races that year and equalled Whincup with 10 ARMOR ALL Pole Positions.
Having all the issues in the second year was deflating for the team after rarely having teething problems in year one – but for Moffat he didn’t doubt the available seat would be a good one.
“I think the encouraging thing for me is that fundamentally the speed has been there with the package,” he said.
“So we’ll see how we go at the test day, put our best foot forward.
“First of all, make sure the speed of the car is still there, and when it comes to reliability, there’s no point having a fast car when you’re sometimes struggling to finish races.
“But I have every confidence that won’t be an issue for us – they know what they’re doing and I’m looking forward to driving the car.”
The first opportunity to get behind the wheel will be a February test day at Winton, which will be critical for Moffat to get a feel for the car before the physical and high risk Clipsal 500 from March 3 to 6.
“The opportunity to jump in the car or the first time at the test day I’m looking forward to,” Moffat said.
“It’s a new challenge for me heading into this year – new team, new car, new teammate, all those sorts of things so that’s something I’m really looking forward to sinking my teeth into as well as I possibly can.
“The challenge of adapting my driving style to the car as quick as possible … that will be something I’ll be working on. So far the team’s been really helpful and all the questions I’ve been asking they’ve been answering for me. So I’ll go in, not just the test day but Clipsal, as best prepared as I can.”
This time last year, it wasn’t Moffat’s intent to line up behind the wheel of a different make – but as the year wore on he knew he had to consider options outside of Nissan to stay on the grid for 2016.
“It was interesting for me to be involved in that last year because early on … my intention was to try and say at Nissan. And they came out publicly and said that was what they were trying to achieve as well,” he explained.
“I think it dragged on a bit, particularly on the Nissan front – I was aware of the fact that opportunities were drying up and I had spoken to Garry on a few occasions throughout the year just to see where he was at.
“I wasn’t naive enough to put all my eggs in the Nissan basket. If I had done that I probably wouldn’t be in a full time drive.
“So I guess at times when you’re coming out of contract it can be uncomfortable when your future is uncertain – but at the same time there’s probably three or four blokes in the category that have a big enough profile and enough history in the category to guarantee them a drive.”
Moffat is glad to have the opportunity with Wilson Security GRM and is eager to get out there and go for some big results. He’s recorded a race win at Winton in 2013 and a podium at the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 in 2014.
Wilson Security GRM will hold an open day at its Dandenong South workshop on February 20 at 10am to show off its 2016 liveries.