Coulthard faces testing times

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 09/07/2014
  • By V8 Supercars

A test at Winton later this month shapes as a crucial day for Fabian Coulthard and Brad Jones Racing's 2014 V8 Supercars Championship attack.

Despite climbing back to third from fourth in the Championship at last weekend's Castrol Townsville 500 - Driven By TAFE Queensland - the Lockwood Racing Holden Commodore VF driver left Reid Park perplexed by the lack of pace of his car.

"I don't know how (we climbed to third), we struggled," he told after starting and finishing 14th in the 250km Race 22.

"I don't really have any answers, I am just thankful we have a test day between now and the next one," he said.

And he admitted a holiday this week on Hamilton Island will be spent searching for answers.

"I am always thinking about it," he said "It's my job, it's my life and it's all I know.

"I just always want to make it better and if I can think of something on holiday that can make the car improve or something I say to (engineer) Phil (Keed) that might jog his memory, then away we go."

Coulthard moved up the Drivers' Championship points table primarily because of Crag Lowndes' disastrous weekend, which saw the Red Bull Racing Australia Commodore driver plunge from second to sixth in the title race.

By comparison, Coulthard's 15-3-14 finishes over the three races - as well as ARMOR ALL Pole Position for Race 21 - were stellar results.

However, the points gap from Coulthard to Championship leader Mark Winterbottom (Ford Performance Racing Pepsi-Max Falcon) has stretched from 247 before Townsville to 273 now, with Shane van Gisbergen, James Courtney and Lowndes close behind him.

And to rub salt into the wounds, BJR dropped from third to fourth in the Teams' Championship after Townsville, usurped by the resurgent Holden Racing Team.

"We certainly do (have issues), I think we have added to that list this weekend," Coulthard said.

Part of the problem for Coulthard was the variation in performance of the car.

"In that first stint today we were nowhere, but the second stint we were as good as anyone," he said. "But we were just buried too deep in the pack and lost a lot of track position early."

BJR, which also includes Team BOC's Jason Bright and Team Advam/GB Galvanising newcomer Dale Wood, will test on July 21 at Winton.

While Coulthard wasn't willing to be explicit about just what he felt were the problems with the BJR Commodore, there is no doubt that a heavy repair load stemming from early-season crashes from Bright and Wood has not helped the team's development program.

It's also clear that there has been significant progress made by some teams in the engine power war, with RBRA making a jump early in the season, the Walkinshaw Racing squad upgrading at Darwin and the Volvo Polestar Racing strong all year.

Coulthard is also into only his second meeting with a new generation of the Triple Eight Race engineering front-end and he told early in the Townsville weekend that the team needed "a lot more time with it to understand it and be able to explore the avenues of what it is capable of doing".

The disappointments of Townsville follow on from a dud double points race in Darwin, where Coulthard suffered from a bad strategy call and finished 22nd, dropping him from third to fourth in the Championship.

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