HRT must cut mistakes!

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 08/05/2015
  • By V8 Supercars

Cut out the mistakes and the Holden Racing Team has a legitimate shot at breaking its 13 year drivers' and teams' championship drought insists headman Adrian Burgess.

And he's using last weekend's eventful HRT performance at the UBET Perth Supersprint as evidence.

While there were mechanical issues, a pitlane muck-up, and the strategy didn't fall the right way, the factory Holden Commodore VFs of James Courtney and Garth Tander were still contenders late into last Sunday's double points 200km race.

And importantly, Courtney exited the event still second in points, while Tander is now sixth - but still well in contact just 122 points behind leader Craig Lowndes. HRT also sits second in the teams' championship 87 points behind Red Bull.

It's a far cry from the self-admitted 'shocker' HRT had in Perth in 2014, when both cars struggled for top 10 pace and then paid the price for low soft-tyre pressures with failures on Sunday.

"We still haven't got the quickest car out there but we have a car capable of winning the championship if everything else operates correctly," the Walkinshaw Racing MD told v8supercars.com.au.

"If we run the car correctly during the weekend and don't make any crazy hair-brained strategies and we don't drop the ball then yeah, we are there to challenge."

Burgess was wooed in 2013 from all-conquering fellow factory Holden team Triple Eight Race Engineering by owner Ryan Walkinshaw to resurrect HRT. He spent last year introducing wholesale technical and structural change.

HRT has not won the drivers' Championship since Mark Skaife claimed his fifthand last title in 2002. Its last Bathurst win was 2011.

HRT's Perth issues included a Friday night precautionary engine change and Saturday rear suspension breakage for Tander - which was replicated by Walkinshaw Racing stablemate Tim Slade's Supercheap Auto car on Sunday - which still had the team perplexed in the week after the race.

"We made a precautionary change to all the cars on Saturday night to try and eliminate it after GT's failure on Saturday and then we had it again on Sunday on a brand new part. So we have got to understand what's gone on there," Burgess said.

Then Courtney had to make two stops during Sunday's crucial safety car period because he was short-fuelled first time round.

That mistake, triggered by an issue with the fuel rig lighting system, ended Courtney's chances of a race win even though he was on the correct hard-hard-soft Dunlop tyre strategy. He still charged through to finish fifth. Tander's hard-soft-hard strategy was cruelled by the safety car and he finished sixth.

"If we don't make mistakes we are in the championship, just like Triple Eight (Race Engineering) and Prodrive (Racing Australia)," Burgess said.

"These championships are so closely fought, really it will be the team that makes the fewest mistakes that will take the thing out because everyone is so even."

The two drivers demonstrated HRT's year-on-year pace improvement by qualifying and finishing in the top 10 eight out of a possible 12 times at Barbagallo Raceway in 2015 compared to just four times in 2014.

"We are going to each event believing the work we have done over the last 12 months has put us in a better position year on year," said Burgess. "I looked at our performance last year and we were shocking in my opinion. This year we were competitive."

Burgess is expecting a similar leap forward in performance at the May 15-17Winton SuperSprint. Last year the team managed two top 10s in qualifying between Courtney and Tander and two top 10 finishes, highlighted by Courtney's second in Sunday's 200km race.

"I think the various areas we have been working on will have us arrive at Winton in a better position than we were last year, so it's about delivering on the potential of the car on that weekend and not making mistakes - whether it's the driver making mistakes or the team making mistakes.

"If we come out of there having achieved what we could have out of the package I will be happy.

"If that has us winning races or challenging for races I will be very happy; if it has us firmly in the top six and that's all we get, well, as long as that's all the car is capable of then we will have to take it and move on to the next event and put those points in the bank and keep working hard.

"When you go home and you finish 10th or 12th and you know the car was capable of something better that's when you go home disappointed."

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