DJR Team Penske to use single test day

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 21/04/2015
  • By V8 Supercars

DJR Team Penske will use its one remaining test day for 2015 on Thursday, as the team fights to improve its Ford Falcon FG X.

And although both drivers will get behind the wheel, the focus of the day is not to give Marcos Ambrose miles in the car, according to managing director Ryan Story.

The V8 Supercars community was shocked last month when Ambrose declared he would step down from driving, so Scott Pye - who has raced the new generation V8 Supercar for the past two years - could help the team progress.

After an outing at Symmons Plains Raceway last month, Pye's feedback was much the same as Ambrose's, and now the team is focused on improving the car and shifting closer to the FG X fellow Ford team Prodrive Racing (Australia) runs.

The decision to test was not one made lightly, as Story wanted to ensure there was a full program to work through, before sacrificing the chance to test prior to the enduros.

"It's not an exercise in getting miles for Marcos - both drivers will drive, but it will be to the program we have set," Story told v8supercars.com.au of the test.

"The reality is, we don't want to go down a path where we are changing drivers now for the sake of it. We want to get to the bottom of the issues we're having, get competitive and then assess the situation from there. Wewant to see Marcos back in the car, and that's the way we're going to do that."

Story admitted the team did not offer Ambrose competitive enough machinery to compete at the level expected of him, and offering a vehicle he can fight with will be what lures him back to the seat full-time.

"I think what we're far more conscious of now is not so much the need to get Marcos up to speed, as it is for us to give him a car he can do a good job with," Story said.

"We haven't done a good enough job, no doubt about it. No doubt about it. Our biggest failing here is we allowed him to step out of the car in the first place. It should've been clear to us, even at an early stage that it wasn't him.

"However, it is the course of action that he's taken that has made it abundantly clear that the issue was with the car, and it's an action that wasn't in vain - but it shouldn't have been allowed to get that far, and that's the biggest failing on our part.

"So we want to make sure we work through these issues and when we have the car where we think it should be, and when we're competitive like the other FG X's and Prodrive, that will be a time for us to reassess and look at putting Marcos back in the car."

Aligning the DJR Team Penske FG X with that of the PRA Falcons is the priorityand while the engine will not change, the team will work through a range of options on Thursday to see what works.

Given the teams have a technical alliance, there is the option for DJR Team Penske to run, for example, Mark Winterbottom's setup - but given the current differences in the car, that approach isn't producing the results they're after.

"The biggest challenge that we've had this year has been seeing those folks be successful," Story said of PRA, which dominated the Australian Grand Prix and has three of its four cars in the top 10 in the championship.

"In the past we've been able to effectively use one of their setups, bolt it in the car and see a lift - this year that hasn't happened. So we've gone from the process of systematically identifying the differences between one of our cars and one of theirs...

"We've ordered a number of components, and the latest spec bits and pieces from Prodrive, and we'll be working through those as part of the program on Thursday."

PRA engineer Adam DeBorre spent yesterday with the team, after testing yesterday was abandoned because of weather. Now focus is on Thursday and as long as schedules line-up, Story is hopeful of having engineering assistance from PRA on the ground.

While the team will test the chassis that ran in Tasmania, changes will then be applied to the chassis crashed and repaired at the AGP as part of the team's 'rolling chassis' plan.

Erebus Motorsport V8 will also be on-track at Queensland Raceway on Thursday, utilising a rookie day for Ash Walsh.

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