“I’m not one to make bold statements, especially before an event,” Image Racing’s Taz Douglas explained. “But quite honestly, this weekend has to be our best chance yet to figure in the outright results.”
Coming into the team’s ‘home’ event, Douglas believes his Dunlop Series ARVO Falcon will be one of the outright contenders, especially off the back of a solid test session at Winton just a week ago. He currently sits 10th in the Championship.
“We were running with a number of other DVS teams as well as some of the Victorian based ‘main game’ cars, so there was a real mix.
“The circuit was a bit different than what we normally experience, and I can’t say it was comfortable early, but by the end of the day we were putting in some seriously quick laps and I found the car more comfortable than it has been all year. That’s promising heading into the weekend.”
After the frustrations of Queensland with a penalty at Townsville and heavy contact in damp conditions in Ipswich, team boss Terry Wyhoon has rediscovered his sense of humour and admits he can’t wait until the opening practice session on Friday morning.
“We were fortunate that the crash at Ipswich was predominantly superficial damage,” he confirmed. “It was almost all cosmetic, so we fixed it pretty quickly and it ran faultlessly during the test session. We found some interesting things during the test too, things which I think will put us in pretty good stead come race day, but ultimately, it all comes down to Taz.”
Douglas acknowledged the track was testing ground for many teams, including a number ahead of him in the Championship.
“The car is good, I’m comfortable, and I’m keen to end the year on a high, so now is our chance to turn around the early season misfortune and get the championship back on track.
“Qualifying will be the key, and that’s what we’ve been working on. If we can line up on the front two rows for race one, then we’re in with a real shot. Once you qualify mid-field, or have a drama and are forced to start mid-field, your weekend can be pretty tough, because inevitably you get caught up in the carnage. The shortened races haven’t helped either, because sometimes you only get six to eight laps to work your way through and that just increases the chance of contact.
“Hopefully this weekend we’ll get the full quota of laps, and that too will play in our favour.”
One issue Wyhoon had spoken about prior to round four at Ipswich was Douglas’ caution whilst running in the pack. Wyhoon admitted that whilst being a positive from a team owner’s perspective, was something he felt was holding the ARVO Racing pilot back and costing him track position. Wyhoon has giving Douglas his blessing to ‘go at it’.
“Yeah we had the chat,” Douglas said. “But I did remind Terry that it was me behind the wheel, and in the heat of battle you make a snap decision, a decision that’s often easy to second-guess in the comfort of the transporter afterwards.
“At the end of the day I will back my experience and ability every time, and I’ll make the decision that I think is best. Obviously I want to win, but I don’t want to be on the sidelines with a bent car or given a drive-through [penalty] for my trouble, because that doesn’t win you championships.
“I faced one of those 50/50 decisions with Andrew Jones at Ipswich, and took the aggressive approach, and we saw how that played out.”
Aside from the three Dunlop Series ‘sprint’ races, Douglas will also be back behind the wheel of the Moffat Nissan at Winton during the first practice session for the Championship Series cars in preparation for his co-drivers role in the coming PIRTEK Enduro Cup.
“That will give me more valuable miles ahead of the three races,” he added. “The cars are very different now than the previous generation V8 Supercars, but all miles at that level are valuable.
“I’m really looking forward to the weekend, and I think from what we’ve uncovered with the ARVO Falcon during testing, there’s no reason why we can’t win the round!”
The Dunlop Series is just one of the support categories that will be running as part of the Winton 360, with Aussie Racing Cars, Formula Ford and Porsche Carrera Cup on the bill alongside the V8 Supercars.