It may not happen at this weekend’s Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint, but new Volvo recruit James Moffat remains confident he will get to the pointy end of the field in the Wilson Security S60 despite a slow start to the V8 Supercars season.
Moffat has been quite open about the fact he has struggled to extract pace from the #34 using team-mate Scott McLaughlin’s set-up, but he and engineer Manuel Sanchez are also yet to find an alternative that produces a similar lap time.
The 31-year old who shifted from Nissan Motorsport to Garry Rogers Motorsport in the off-season admitted his inability to run at the front through the Clipsal 500 and the Formula 1 non-championship races had challenged his self-belief.
But he insists he has the experience after five full-time V8 Supercars seasons to withstand that and keep looking forward.
“You do absolutely have to keep working at it,” Moffat told v8supercars.com. “But there is definitely an element that it knocks your confidence around a bit.
“Doing well and having strong results means a lot to me. I felt like I came into this year really well prepared so not to start the year off as well as we hoped it does knock you around a bit.
“But I have been around long enough that you might feel like that for a couple of days, but you just have to bounce back and pull yourself back up and believe in your own ability and believe that the reason you are here is because you have worked hard at it to get to this point and you have the ability to run in the championship.”
Moffat started the season in Adelaide trying to emulate McLaughlin’s ‘loose’ set-up in #34, but veered away from that from Saturday onwards.
“Loose is quite an accurate description,” Moffat said. “Looser than what I have been used to.
“I always have known Scotty is fast and very talented, but seeing what he is able to do at Clipsal – some of the data is very impressive. I am happy to admit that.
“I guess that’s a challenge for me to get to his level and we just might do it a bit differently to how they do it on #33. I am sure we can get to that level.”
Moffat also revealed the S60 was very different ergonomically to the Nissan Altima he raced previously, which was also taking some adjustment.
“It may now just take us a little longer to get to a point in terms of the comfort I need from the car – or the feel that I need from the car – than we might have anticipated. But I have to believe in myself and the team that we will get there and be able to challenge at the front of the field.
“The encouraging thing for me is the team seems very receptive to the idea of maybe doing things a little bit differently on my car in terms of the set-up compared to #33. And you never know we might learn some stuff along the way that might help #33.”
Moffat’s progress has been slowed by some issues at the pre-season test day, then at the Clipsal by Sunday’s power steering failure in qualifying and front-end suspension damage in the race when he was tapped into the turn 7 wall by eventual winner Nick Percat. He emerged from the championship opener 19th in the points.
At the AGP it was a similar story of misadventure, getting involved in incidents and accidents in the mid-field after qualifying only 24th.
Moffat and Sanchez will continue their search for a set-up in this weekend’s Tyrepower Tasmania SuperSprint at Symmons Plains, where McLaughlin has posted decent results in the Volvo in the past.
Moffat, by contrast, has struggled at the 2.41km bullring in the under-powered Nissan Altima for the last three seasons.
“The last three years down there have been very character building, so I am excited to head down there with the Volvo and the team.
“It is a track with only seven corners so that means you have to be right on top of your game – as you do every week. The times there are always incredibly close because it is such a short lap time.
“But the fact the team has gone well there in the past, that gives us a bit of confidence heading down there. (Hopefully we can) have a good weekend down there and get the championship back on track, because coming out of Clipsal we are definitely further down than what I am comfortable with.