After scoring his second top 10 result of the year at Winton, David Reynolds heads to his favourite place on the calendar with momentum.
His Erebus Motorsport team played down the significance of a missed test on Tuesday after being met by bad weather, and Reynolds is ready to race at Hidden Valley in Darwin, where he won in 2015 and scored three poles in three years.
It has traditionally been a place where his season really gets motoring. Last year he entered the event ninth in the drivers’ championship and used it as a springboard to eventually finish third in The Bottle-O Ford Falcon FG X.
But it is also the venue where he took the chequered flag first in the opening 60km segment of the 2013 60/60 race but was not credited with what would have been his first win because the race had only reached ‘half-time’.
In the ‘second half’ he was punted off by teammate Mark Winterbottom, losing his chance of victory.
“Darwin is my favourite track and this is one of my favourite races,” Reynolds said.
“I always go better in the second half of the year. The first half of the year you might as well write me off. I don’t know why. Maybe it takes me a while to get over my Christmas hang-over.”
A more concrete reason for a potential positive result at Hidden Valley this year is that it was resurfaced only 12 months ago. The Erebus Commodore also showed strong form on Winton’s new surface last event, with Reynolds charging to sixth.
“Darwin might be the same (as Winton) because they are both quite high grip tracks,” Reynolds said.
“In saying that, if the car can make grip on a high-grip track it can make grip on a low grip track. It’s just grip.”
While it finished on a high, Winton was a mixed bag for Reynolds and Betty Klimenko’s team which continues to rebuild and re-establish itself after moving from Queensland to Melbourne, hiring a virtually all-new crew and swapping from Mercedes-AMG to Holden.
Reynolds lost Friday practice because of an installation issue in the rear suspension, qualified only 20th on Saturday and and then had any chances of a result foiled by a slow pit stop.
He qualified 17th for the Sunday race at Winton after making mistake on his hot lap, but forged forward throughout, making a series of bold passes and taking sixth from DJR Team Penske’s Scott Pye when he ran off with just two corners to go.
Reynolds said the result had provided a vital boost for the team and for him.
“The car was so good by Sunday that if I had qualified in the 10 I would have been in the top three easily,” he said.
“That result gives every one in our team the ability to think we are on the right track and if we just keep doing what we are doing then should keep pushing further up the order.”
Ryan was positive the move will help set the developing team up for the future, and was not fazed about missing Monday’s test.
The team was able to complete some running before calling it at 11am in accordance with the rules.
“It’s always a shame to delay valuable testing time but we can’t control Mother Nature and we needed her on our side to run through the planned program. With a short turnaround for Darwin after the test it makes sense for us to head back to the workshop and reschedule the test after the next three rounds,” Ryan said.
"We have effectively been testing at the race weekends and the progress made over the last two rounds in Perth and Winton has been outstanding and a credit to everyone in our team.
“The short run we had confirmed the direction we are heading with is working and we still managed to take positives out of the day and learn, so it wasn't a loss at all.”