Fabian Coulthard is convinced creating a hybrid ‘Falcadore’ is how he will take the next competitive step forward with DJR Team Penske.
The New Zealander, who joined DJRTP from Brad Jones Racing along with his engineer Phil Keed for this season, says he wants some of the strengths of his old Holden Commodore VF merged with the Ford Falcon FG X he races now.
“I am in a situation where I have been able to drive the Holden and now the Ford, so I know the strengths of that car and I know the strengths of this car so I am trying to get something hybrid in the middle,” Coulthard told supercars.com in the build-up to this weekend’s Castrol EDGE Townsville 400.
“Then I can keep the strengths of what we currently have, but also get some of the strengths of last year’s car.”
While Coulthard wouldn’t delve into technical detail, brakes have proved to be an issue for the DJRTP Falcons in 2016. However, they have also had good tyre life.
Coulthard suggested there was potentially some pain in store in terms of results before progress could be made.
“There is a point where we are going to have to take a step back to go forward in my opinion, just to get the car to my liking a little bit more,” the 33-year old said.
“The base car is pretty good, but to make it stronger we still have to do a few things.”
Referencing the Commodore makes sense for Coulthard and Keed, who worked together for four years at BJR, winning five races, scoring six poles and finishing inside the top 10 in the drivers’ championship all three years since the NewGen technical regulations were introduced in 2013.
But in terms of knowledge of the NewGen Falcon FG X they are significantly behind Scott Pye and his engineer Adam De Borre, the latter shifting from Prodrive Racing Australia to DJRTP for 2016.
“Phil and I are still trying to understand this car and what makes it tick,” confirmed Coulthard.
“On the other side of the garage Adam has had a lot of dealings with the car and understands it far greater than both Phil and I, so we are still trying to explore both sides of the spectrum and obviously that takes time.
“It’s something we are learning every lap we do. I feel we are making it stronger, we have shown when the car is good we can qualify up the front and get podiums.”
So far in 2016 Coulthard has scored one ARMOR ALL Pole Position, two third-place finishes and two other top 10s to run 14th in the title chase.
But DJRTP, which came under the ownership of US motor racing billionaire Roger Penske in 2015, has been unable to maintain form through an entire weekend and Coulthard believes achieving that will be important.
Certainly he’ll be looking for a better weekend in FNQ than last time out at the Crownbet Darwin Triple Crown, where a strong sixth on Saturday was followed up by 25th and a crashed car on Sunday, when he got caught up in the opening lap fracas.
“I feel like at the moment for me that (consistency) is kind of a weakness. Both Scott and I manage to do one good day and the other day is not so good, so we need to level that out and make it more consistent and that’s where better learning comes from.
DJRTP has struck out on its own technical course in 2016 after previously having a close alliance with PRA. Part of that independence has included testing the Ohlins shock absorber alongside the Supashock. The team has also added substantial new crew to its workforce as part of its expansion from one to two cars.
“People forget it’s in its second year as DJR Team Penske and in the short time I have been there from the start of the year to now there are a lot of new guys and a lot of them hadn’t worked together and that in itself is a hurdle.
“We have to get those guys working together so the more they do the better it is going to be. In the short term it has been very good. We have made good progression.
“But we cannot fast track that progress, it needs to come at its own progression and rate. I can only go off how comfortable I am in the car and being able to get podiums with a car that I am happy with and I can feel the potential in the car of what’s to come.
“Once we get on top of that I feel it is going to be pretty cool.”
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