He was quickest at the sydney.com Test Day yesterday, but Fabian Coulthard knows the point-scoring Clipsal 500 is where crossing the line first matters.
“I’m coming away pretty happy,” the Lockwood racer said after testing. “But we’ve got to do it when it counts at Clipsal.”
After the seven hours on-track yesterday, the Lockwood racer sat at the top of the times. And it wasn’t just a strong lap (1min30.4787) he achieved – the team managed to make it through its testing plan, despite interruptions from the patchy weather.
“The weather made it difficult – wet, dry, wet, dry – so that definitely hindered our progress of what we really wanted to try but by the end of the day we actually got through everything we wanted to,” he said.
While competitors may talk down the importance of the testing results, for Brad Jones Racing last year the one-two test result was a sign of form – and Coulthard believes it will be again, holding even more weight given the V8 Supercars race at Sydney Motorsport Park for points later in the season.
“We’ve had good speed throughout last year so I think it’s pretty true and accurate… I think it’s important in the aspect that we race here this year, I’m sure you can learn some things.
“The surface here is very hard on tyres, so you do one thing, go out on the tyres and they have degraded that much – it’s a difficult test track, so we’ll just have to see how we go. I’m leaving here pretty happy.”
While tyres is always a talking point during a test or practice session, given he had turned so many laps last year, Coulthard insisted it wasn’t a situation where he’d saved good rubber for a ‘glory lap’.
“It’s tough – you finish races you don’t have a very good tyre bank. The tyres were ok, they’re everything they needed to be but they’re not all singing and dancing – we don’t have any good tyres to save to do a good hero lap at the end.
“We run softs, we run hards, we went through the plan and that was the outcome.”
Attention has already turned to the first race event of the season, less than a fortnight away. The grueling Clipsal 500 tours through the streets of Adelaide, lined viciously with concrete walls. Clipsal winners often go on to have strong seasons and Coulthard, who has not yet won the prestigious opener, knows the challenge it produces.
“It’s not going to be easy by any means but it’s going to be a great race,” he said.
“It’s a long race – 250km on the Saturday, 250km on the Sunday. Yeah, the Saturday one is broken up (into two races) but it’s demanding – there’s no rest. It’s one of the toughest races, if not the toughest coming back after Christmas.”