Patience and precision were the keys for IndyCar star Alexander Rossi as his tackled a Supercar for the first time at Winton on Tuesday.
Rossi is sharing Walkinshaw Andretti United’s wildcard entry for the Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 with fellow IndyCar ace James Hinchcliffe.
The duo have three days of testing at Winton before next week’s Bathurst event, today running alongside all of the Victorian-based Supercars teams.
Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner, said he was pleased with his progress aboard the NAPA-backed Commodore on day one.
“I think the coolest part is the sound of the car. Inside the car, it’s pretty awesome,” said the American.
“It’s one of those types of cars that brings a smile to your face. It was easier to get used to than I had imagined – I was preparing myself for the worst.
“Kind of like all race cars, to get to the top times and the top cars, there’s a lot of work that goes into it and we’re not quite where we need to be yet, so fortunately we have another couple of days to keep working on it and dial it in.”
The 28-year-old ex-Formula 1 driver identified two key takeaways needing to be secured from their Winton visit.
“One, understanding set-up changes, like if you change a spring what it will do and what are the positives and negatives,” Rossi said.
“And then the other thing is just learning how you extract the lap time from the car … knowing how to get the lap time out on new tyres [and] old tyres is a big thing to take away from here.”
Rossi stressed that the Supercar required a very different driving style from the IndyCars he usually steers.
“The biggest thing is with a car that weighs this much, you have to be a lot more patient with it than what we’re used to,” he said.
“Also the power steering rewards a lot of precision whereas an IndyCar rewards kind of muscling it around and it’s kind of whoever tries the hardest is quickest.”
Hinchcliffe meanwhile is set to do much of the Wednesday running, having only landed in Australia on Tuesday morning.
The Canadian nonetheless got the chance to turn a handful of laps to reacquaint himself – having made a one-off Supercars appearance in 2012 – and be in a position to hit the ground running on day two of the test.
“The cars were a blast to drive in 2012 and they’re a blast to drive now,” he said.
When asked of the vital things to establish at Winton ahead of the Great Race, Hinchcliffe said: “The most important thing is getting some comfort level in the car, get to know the team, get to know the procedures.
“Things like pitstops, you can practice those ... driver changes are obviously going to be a big thing for us to work on and learn about.
“I think there is a lot that can be achieved at a place that is nothing like Bathurst.”
The #27 NAPA ZB is one of two wildcards in the Bathurst field, with Dunlop Super2 team Kostecki Brothers Racing also joining the grid.