Many teams have taken the opportunity to hit the track ahead of the first long-distance PIRTEK Enduro Cup event.
With just over a week to go before the Wilson Security Sandown 500, it's about fine tuning and procedure – here’s the latest on the teams’ preparation.
Brad Jones Racing and Ford Performance Racing were the first of the Melbourne teams to run at Winton Raceway.
BJR continued on from its test last week and co-driver Luke Youlden (to pair Fabian Coulthard in Lockwood Racing #14) said he had just under 40 laps, and was comfortable and happy with the car. “Most of it, to be fair, was start procedures, pit stop practice, getting driver change sorted with Fabs, on top of general lapping,” he said.
Nissan Motorsport held a ride day at Calder Park and while the team doesn’t benefit technically from the outing, it is a positive sponsor exercise ahead of the season’s biggest races and gives co-drivers one last chance behind the wheel. All four main series drivers were present, with co-drivers Taz Douglas (James Moffat) and Karl Reindler (Rick Kelly) also running laps.
“The set up is basic,” Nissan Motorsport Commercial Manager Nick Ryan said of a ride day. “A test day is obviously all about development and focusing on changes to the cars. We were not permitted to do any of that, so purely from an engineering standpoint it’s more beneficial for (the engineers) to be back at the workshop and working away.”
All Queensland-based teams ran at Queensland Raceway on Tuesday.
TEKNO Autosports’ day ran smoothly and again it was more about preparation for the enduros than outright speed, as team manager Bruce Jenkins told v8supercars.com.au on Monday: “It’s not to go faster at Queensland Raceway, but to be right at the enduros at Sandown and Bathurst”.
Shane van Gisbergen’s car ran the updated version of the Albins transaxle and Jonathon Webb’s will be fitted prior to the 500.
The team’s international co-drivers were not present, but arrive in Australia on Monday to acclimatise ahead of the race meeting.
Wilson Security backed DJR had a small hiccup when Tim Blanchard’s Falcon caught fire after lunchtime. “We had a small issue with a fire after lunch, which put an end to the day,” Blanchard said.
“But we got through a fair bit of the test plan, we just had pit stop practice in the afternoon. It was a bit annoying, but we can practice that stuff in the workshop to a degree.
“It’s not a complete disaster, more an inconvenience and a lot more work for the boys, which is the main issue.”
Shortened running time hasn’t dented Blanchard’s confidence coming into the enduros. The DJR cars will be running a revised livery for the '500'.
Erebus Motorsport V8’s team manager David Stuart said the test was positive for their three cars and gave co-drivers another run.
"The test session was focused purely around pre-Enduro Cup preparation.
"As a team, we underwent an analysis of our Winton results and arrived at some setup changes for the upcoming races with those results in mind.
"We were able to work through those changes and evaluate them with our regular drivers and co-drivers. We gave all six drivers plenty of laps behind the wheel to be comfortable with those changes and be ready to go come Sandown.”
FPR continued on track with a ride day at Winton.
There was no “super sonic development activity” for Fujitsu Garry Rogers Motorsport at the day’s test session, just the usual preparations for endurance racing, according to team boss Garry Rogers.
While it was mostly a day for Greg Ritter and Jack Perkins getting behind the wheel, the team’s main series steerers Alex Premat and Scott McLaughlin also managed a few laps.
“No one speared off track, nothing broke or blew up, we enjoyed our lunch, so I can’t say it was anything but a success,” Rogers said.
“The team’s fine, the blokes are good. They know what we want and each other’s strengths, and work really well together as a team.
“Greg’s been with us a long time and Jack’s a good guy who can drive the car. There’s no reason we can’t have a reasonably satisfactory shot – others might think they’re exactly the same, but we work a bit harder.”
Walkinshaw Racing and Tony D’Alberto Racing were also on track at Winton.
Russell Ingall’s co-driver Ryan Briscoe will arrive on Wednesday ahead of the event. Ingall is not concerned about Briscoe not having seat time in the Supercheap Auto V8 Supercar until the Wilson Security Sandown 500.
Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport will be the last team to test prior to the Wilson Security Sandown 500, heading to Winton Raceway on Tuesday after international co-driver Matt Halliday touches down in Australia.
Dean Fiore – who paired with Halliday at Dick Johnson Racing last year – was pleased to secure his former co-pilot and is even more confident now Halliday has the opportunity to get behind the wheel prior to the 500km race.