How De Pasquale aims to close gap to Triple Eight

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 16/07/2021
  • By James Pavey

A renewed focus on "outright speed" has Anton De Pasquale confident he can close the gap to Red Bull Ampol Racing in Townsville.

De Pasquale was the closest challenger to Shane van Gisbergen and Jamie Whincup in last weekend's 250km races.

This weekend, the WD-40 Townsville SuperSprint presents a different challenge on the same circuit in the form of three sprint races.

De Pasquale was strong in both 88-lap races, but van Gisbergen and Whincup had him on speed.

He was 37 seconds from the win on Saturday, and 23 seconds down on Sunday.

With tyre conservation not expected to feature heavily in this weekend's three sprint races, De Pasquale is eyeing an improvement on outright pace to catch the runaway Triple Eight duo.

"This week will see a lot shorter races, but you still have to look after your tyres," the Shell V-Power Racing Team driver said on Friday.

"We're not going to have as many tyres as we did last week, so you still need to have a car that looks after its tyres.

"That's always the key around here, no matter what you do.

"We'll roll out with something a bit different to be faster through qualy and into the race, and carry on.

"Tyre life is usually pretty good [for us], it's not something we're thinking about too much. It's more about outright speed."

Like the rest of the field, De Pasquale had an entire week to debrief on the NTI Townsville 500 ahead of this weekend's return event.

De Pasquale qualified fourth and fifth for the two races, and despite losing ground in the opening stanzas, was in a race of his own by the end of both 88-lap epics.

Trouble for rivals saw the 25-year-old rise to sixth in the standings, but his gaze is firmly set on reeling in van Gisbergen and Whincup.

He'll need it; on average, no driver has lost more ground in races so far in 2021 than de Pasquale.

"We came third in both races, but we were a little bit behind," he said.

"Better than a lot of other people; the results we good and got a trophy. Any time you get a trophy in this category, it's a good day.

"We want to bridge that gap, and that's what we're trying to do all the time.

"It's the fun part of our sport and it's what we enjoy. It's cool to come back here in a week, you get the whole week to think about it."

The weekend looms to be another Red Bull Ampol whitewash, with the team winning four of the six sprints in Townsville last year.

De Pasquale's Shell squad won the other two races courtesy of Scott McLaughlin.

Desperate to add to his Race 10 win at The Bend in May, De Pasquale was confident the steps taken through the week may be enough to challenge the two rampant Bulls.

"We're trying to always go better, the guys next door had it over us for most of the weekend," he said.

"I think we made good steps throughout the week, we've had all week to think about it.

"Hopefully we can roll out a bit quicker, put up a good fight and put on a good show."

The 2021 Repco Supercars Championship will continue at this weekend’s WD-40 Townsville SuperSprint. Tickets are available here.

The event will be broadcast live on Foxtel and will be streamed on Kayo.

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