Should the Shell V-Power Racing Team solve its one-lap pace, Anton De Pasquale believes Erebus and Triple Eight still have an edge on race pace.
Erebus and Triple Eight have been the benchmark teams through four rounds in 2023, winning 11 of the 12 races.
Four other teams have scored podiums this season, but Erebus and Triple Eight have enjoyed the lion’s share of the wins so far.
Few drivers put in as big a stint in Tasmania as De Pasquale, who gained a combined 22 positions across the three races.
The #11 Shell V-Power Ford pilot’s weekend was undone by starts of 22nd, 19th and 17th.
One-lap pace has eluded the Ford squad, with De Pasquale managing three top 10 starts in 12 races.
Will Davison has had a better time of it, qualifying in the top 10 seven times.
De Pasquale does have the team’s sole pole position, taken at Albert Park, but he fell away to sixth in the race.
The team’s Sunday performance was also affected by dual qualifying run-ins with Ford rival Cam Waters.
It comes after DJR CEO David Noble highlighted to Motorsport.com that qualifying was an issue.
“Fight for wins? It’s a push, I think,” De Pasquale told the Schick Cool Down Lap podcast.
“If we started front two rows, we’re probably finishing in the five if we have a clean race.
“Fighting for the lead, those guys [Erebus and Triple Eight] are pretty quick, they’ve still got an edge on us and most of the field.
“We’ll worry about that if we get there. We’re getting better, but everyone else is as well."
De Pasquale raced from 17th to ninth in the Tasmania finale to snap a seven-race streak outside the top 10.
He opened the Albert Park weekend with sixth and fifth, before going on a run of DNF, 22nd, 13th, 22nd, 15th, 13th and 14th.
The other two occasions he qualified in the top 10, De Pasquale tripped over his rivals — with Macauley Jones in Melbourne (started fourth) and David Reynolds in Perth (started third).
De Pasquale was impressed by the speed of his car in the races, with Davison taking home fastest lap bonus points in Sunday’s first race.
However, he reiterated his team has to resolve its one-lap problems first.
“Not an awesome weekend, but we ended on a slight high, one of our better races of the year,” he said.
“Only for a ninth, which is obviously not what we come here for, but came from a fair way back.
“Had a bit of speed which was good — we came into here looking to try some things we haven’t tried before on my car.
“We did that from the onset and lost a practice in the meantime, but we're learning some things which is good.
“I think I passed 10 or 11 in the last one. It’s awesome and sounds good, but it means you’re qualifying too far back.
“There’s a balance between passing cars and starting at the front —I’d much rather start at the front.”
DJR is set to test ahead of the upcoming round at Hidden Valley Raceway on June 16-18.
Davison and De Pasquale are ninth and 18th heading to next month's betr Darwin Triple Crown.