Edwards: Prodrive ‘underdogs’ in Penske, T8 battle

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 02/03/2017
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

Prodrive boss Tim Edwards is confident that his team can regain the Supercars title this season, despite lacking the outright firepower of Triple Eight and DJR Team Penske.

Expectations that the year will be a heavyweight battle between Triple Eight and DJR Team Penske have dominated the lead-up to the Clipsal 500 Adelaide.

Triple Eight has been the category benchmark for much of the last decade and returns in 2017 with factory Holden Racing Team status added to its strong backing from Red Bull.

American giant Penske meanwhile enters the year with a new big-money sponsorship from Shell, highly rated driver signing Scott McLaughlin and recently recruited technical ace Ludo Lacroix.

Working hard to improve Prodrive’s package over the break, Edwards says he’s more than happy to have been ‘flying under the radar’ ahead of the season opener.

Prodrive, which lost its factory Ford backing at the end of 2014, won the following year’s title with Mark Winterbottom before enduring a slump last season.

“The focus is bound to be on those two (Triple Eight and Penske) because they’re the two powerhouse teams now,” Edwards told Supercars.com.

“They do have more financial and intellectual resources than the rest of the pitlane, there’s no question about it.

“We’re all underdogs compared to those guys really, but you never want to use that as an excuse and we’re not doing that.

“We won the championship in 2015 by being smarter and driving better and just doing a better job.

“You’ve got to have that belief. If we just said ‘we haven’t got as much money as them so we’ll settle for third, fourth or fifth’ then there’s no point going racing.

“We’re here because we think we can win and I’d like to think we’ve got the drivers to do it and the smartest people in the pitlane.

Mark Winterbottom of Prodrive Racing Australia during the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship Test Day,  at the Sydney Motorsport Park, Sydney, New South Wales, February 21, 2017.

“During the off-season we’ve made improvements all over the car. How much have others improved?

“We don’t know, but we’ll find out this weekend whether we’ve done enough or if there’s more to do.”

Edwards is one of many expecting that the new Dunlop tyres will play a major role in how the year plays out.

“I think the tyres will give us more of what we experienced at the start of last year,” he said, referring to a season that saw 10 different winners from the first 13 races.

“When you’ve got a category this close, a certain track or condition only has to suit your car a little bit more than anyone else and you’re the hero for that weekend.”

After heading into 2016 with established stars Winterbottom and Chaz Mostert paired with rookies Cameron Waters and Chris Pither, Edwards feels he has four potential race winners this year.

Waters undertook driver training in the United Kingdom ahead of his second full season while former Bathurst winner Jason Bright has rejoined the team and is fired up to score results.

“Cam learnt a lot last year and he’s done a lot over the break as well,” said Edwards.

“Brighty hopped in the car and was comfortable straight away.

“I think he’s got a point to prove as well. He wants to demonstrate to people that he can still do it.

“He’s great to work with and fits very well with the culture of the team. It’s great to have him back.”

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