Erebus Motorsport has lauded the arrival of Dale Wood to the team, praising the unheralded driver as a key reason behind its strong form at recent events.
Lead driver David Reynolds finished third in the Sunday race at the WD-40 Phillip Island 500, while Wood recorded a season high eighth.
Erebus Motorsport general manager Barry Ryan says Wood's technical feedback has helped the small squad develop its Commodore package.
Currently in his fourth season in the category, Wood arrived at Erebus following difficult stints at Brad Jones Racing and Nissan Motorsport.
“I don’t think people recognise what he’s done for us this year,” Ryan told Supercars.com of Wood.
“He’s got a lot of experience and he’s got to get some confidence in himself.
“The last few years he’s been knocked around a bit, the media knocked him around and the fans knocked him around and he reads all that stuff unfortunately.
“His ability in the car is really good with his feedback and technical knowledge.
“He just doesn’t have that confidence to push that last bit in some spots or makes a few little errors.”
After running rookies Aaren Russell and Shae Davies in its second entry last year, Ryan says Wood’s experience in the category is allowing them to improve their cars through race weekends.
“You can give him something like a development to evaluate,” he added.
“Like at Tassie and Phillip Island we went two different directions.
“You can rely on his feedback when he comes back in. If he says it’s not better, it’s not.
“So there’s no use Dave (Reynolds) trying it. Last year we didn’t have that luxury.
“That gives us more practice time essentially.”
Wood explained he has been able to settle quickly with the small Melbourne squad but is yet to maximise his results.
“The environment itself is the best I’ve been in,” Wood told Supercars.com.
“I haven’t come into the team, like in previous teams, where it’s been a change getting used to personalities and car differences.
“The comment is said a bit that I’ve got a bit of experience… arguably I’ve been around the category a while, but effectively this is really my fourth full-time year.
“I can bring that amount of experience, but it's nothing like the likes of Garth (Tander) or (Craig) Lowndes have.
“But I’ve got a good mechanical understanding as well and like to think I have a good idea of what’s going on in the car and what makes it tick.
“They value my input and it seems to be stacking up to having car speed and getting results as well.”
While Reynolds is driving an Erebus built chassis and Wood inherited his former Walkinshaw-built Commodore for 2017, the team is yet to find any major problems running the different cars.
“The data makes it look like they’re pretty similar,” Ryan said.
“Our car is performing better than last year. I don’t know if it’s the car or if the team is working better together in the engineering group and drivers.
“It’s still a bit of question so we need to do back-to-back at a test and get Dave and Dale to drive each other’s cars
“We can’t do it at a race meeting, so at the next test it’s the first thing on the list.”