Tomorrow's test "vital" for Valvoline GRM

  • 11/08/2014
  • By V8 Supercars
  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship

Valvoline Racing GRM will hit the track tomorrow at Winton Motor Raceway for its second independent test of the season.

Star Volvo driver Scott McLaughlin, who sits seventh in the Championship, has revealed the team will experiment with the S60s, with the ultimate goal of improving race pace and tyre life.

Given his position in the points, McLaughlin said his team has been reluctant to make experimental changes at events, making the test "vital" to finding important gains before Sydney Motorsports Park and the remainder of the season.

"It's more to work on our race pace - everyone knows that we struggle a little bit over the distance with tyre wear, so it's massive for us to try and sort a few of those things out," McLaughlin told v8supercars.com.au.

"We also need to find out what we can change, how much we can change and what it does to the car. It's an experiment in some ways, because we haven't really had enough time at test days to try a heap of different changes, see what they do to the car and the effects - so tomorrow will be the day for that."

For McLaughlin, whose goal for the season is to finish in the top five, he feels a solid Championship position has held the team back from taking bigger risks on race days, in order to learn more about the new-for-2014 Volvos.

After Sunday's race at Queensland Raceway the 21-year old told v8supercars.com.au the S60 had "probably the best race speed we've had for a long time" but he felt that was because the team gambled on setup.

"We risked a little bit more in what we changed prior to the race, especially Sunday," he said.

"We've gathered a lot of information over race days, especially the Sundays - where we've gotten a lot of understeer on the Sundays - so we took a risk and it rewarded us pretty well.

"We probably could've gone further and that's what we're really working on tomorrow, exactly how much can we go with a car before a race. How much will it change the car, will it make it worse, will it make it better?

"In some ways it's good to be up the front of the Championship, but you don't get to try the things you want to try. You don't risk it as much."

The hard part is that to stay in contention for a strong Championship finish come December, McLaughlin needs to capitalise on the Sunday races at the SuperSprint events, which are effectively worth double the points of one Saturday race, as it is double the distance.

"The test day is a massive thing for us to turn that around - it'd be good to get a strong result on a Sunday, we really need it and it's hurting our Championship when we unfortunately don't have a good run," McLaughlin said.

He said a Sunday win would be "massive - even a podium would be amazing".

Come the Pirtek Enduro Cup long distance races, points will be all-or-nothing for the Wilson Security Sandown 500 and Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 - however this test is not focused on endurance running for Valvoline GRM, with another test to be scheduled when team co-driver Alex Premat returns to Australia from France.

The team is yet to declare who Premat and Greg Ritter will be paired with for the PIRTEK Enduro Cup.

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