Chaz Mostert admits his return to Supercars racing hasn’t all been smooth sailing as he gets reacquainted with his Ford Falcon FG X.
The 23-year old had blistering speed out the gate after returning from his broken leg and wrist for 2016 and has already banked two ARMOR ALL Pole Positions in his Supercheap Auto Supercar.
But the last round in Perth reminded him it’s not just about outright speed all the time – he will take that lesson with him to Winton this week, the home of his first Supercars win last year and also one of his most visible mistakes.
“It’s annoying because it makes you feel a bit rusty coming back into it, but at least it was a good learning weekend.”
The young gun admits he doesn’t feel like he’s come very far in 12 months and is having to remind himself of what he needs to do to get a win. He earned five victories last year and while there have been eight winners from nine races in 2016, Mostert isn’t yet one of them.
“I don’t know if it’s rusty, just for me I’m just forgetting some key points, I guess,” he said.
“I just wanted to try and get the most out of the car and drive the car at ten-tenths and it probably didn’t really want me to be at ten-tenths during the race.
“It was probably more of an error … to attack the race that way. I probably went the wrong way and that’s what hurt us the most.
“You can’t dwell on it – I’m just looking ahead. I don’t really keep thinking backwards, but it wasn’t good for the team to go from a front row start and finish sixth… For us, I’ve got my eyes forward, I don’t think about backwards, so we’ll see how we go at Winton.”
The resurfaced Winton circuit has been a talking point for weeks, with a handful of teams testing before the Perth round, building on the knowledge gained at the pre-season test.
Prodrive elected not to test ahead of the event, but Mostert wasn’t worried.
“The new surface is probably going to throw a lot of the setups out the window and it’s really about a fresh weekend and how quickly you can adapt your car to what you need for that track,” he said.
The pre-season test was very different for him than others – it was his first time back in a Supercar, so it wasn’t just the surface that felt different.
“For me the test day was more just to blow the cobwebs out, for my first hit back in the car and the car felt differently at the test day at the start of the year anyway,” he said.
“For us, it’s about how quickly we can work to the grip with our four cars [at Winton], dial in the best setup we can straight out the gate – so we just have to focus on ourselves and try and get the best out of it.”
And as for that error – that saw him go from leading the race to stuck with his car on two wheels, the rear of his Falcon lodged up in the tyre barriers – Mostert doesn’t think it was a big deal.
“Last year I was having so much fun driving that car around Winton – it was so fast,” he said.
“One little mistake and it can turn into making it look like a massive mistake. I dropped a wheel on the entry of a corner at turn four and obviously it was not what I was planning on doing. It was just one of those things I guess, it happened.
“You’ve got to try and learn from it, but when you’re driving at ten-tenths you’re sometimes always going to have an error here or there. And unfortunately when you have an error sometimes it magnifies … and looks like a massive error.”
Mostert bounced back from that mistake last year to win the first race at a resurfaced Darwin and found himself up to second in the Championship points by the Sydney Motorsport Park event in August. He’s currently 12th in the standings after coming out of Clipsal 22nd and just wants to push forward.
“You’ve got to go out there, you’ve got to be fast and push hard and sometimes you make mistakes. There’s no point dwelling on them – it’s what you do.
“I just have to go out there and attack the weekend like every other weekend so far. I’ll try and get the most speed out of the car to head into qualifying, and then try and work out how I’m going to try the save the tyres through the race.
“Perth I learnt a lot about the weekend and how to manage the car a bit better and we’ll see if that will pay off somewhere along the lines.”