With more movement than ever before in the V8 Supercars paddock for the 2016 season, the Inside Supercars panel analysed drivers who steered new cars at the Clipsal 500.
Respected former champs Russell Ingall and Mark Skaife assessed the performance of some of the pilots adjusting to new homes and discussed whether they made the right choice on Inside Supercars.
Here’s what they think of the big movers and shakers – join the conversation below.
Shane van Gisbergen – from TEKNO Autosports to Triple Eight
He’s third in the championship, just behind new teammate Jamie Whincup, and unsurprisingly the panel gave the quick Kiwi a big tick for his move.
“I still think van Gisbergen has come out the winner,” Ingall said.
“He definitely gelled pretty well with his environment, considering he went from the same car, but there’s a big difference in teams.”
Skaife agreed, particularly given van Gisbergen did not always look comfortable in his Red Bull Racing Australia Commodore.
“You think about the discipline Triple Eight are going to give van Gisbergen – I reckon that will really help him in terms of being consistent throughout the year, that’ll make a big difference to his act,” Skaife added.
Will Davison – from Erebus Motorsport to TEKNO Autosports
He’s in van Gisbergen’s old car but he failed to rag it around the streets the way the Kiwi could in Adelaide and Homebush last year.
The jury was out as to whether Davison met expectation at a circuit he conquered in 2012 when he won the Clipsal 500 event.
“I’m not so sure,” Ingall said.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure on him too because Shane van Gisbergen in that car won races … I think he did an ok job.”
Davison scored a win with Erebus last year in Perth and has been hungry for more consistency at the front of the field.
He earned 11th, ninth and 15th at the season opener and sits 15th in the Championship.
“I was expecting more, I think he’s going to have to lift a little bit,” Ingall said.
“I think he’s underperforming a little bit. I know he’s having to come to grips with it, it’s a big difference from where he came from.”
Tim Slade – from Walkinshaw Racing to Brad Jones Racing
While Ingall was positive about the move, he was disappointed with Slade’s run at his home track in Adelaide. After being quickest in pre-season testing in Victoria, Slade had some odd dramas across the races.
“He didn’t seem comfortable at Walkinshaw, it just wasn’t really there – I reckon it’s a really good home for him BJR, it’s a tighter knit team,” Ingall began.
“I was disappointed in his performance. I thought in testing he was super fast at the Winton test before Clipsal but just didn’t seem to shine.”
Ingall revealed the two spoke in Adelaide and Slade was unhappy, falling short of his expectations for the round.
“He came out going, ‘we’ll be in the top five here definitely’, which was a bit deflating … there’s a bit to go.”
He recorded 26th, 17th and 20th in the opening races and sits 23rd in the points.
Fabian Coulthard – Brad Jones Racing to DJR Team Penske
The consensus on the panel seemed to be that Coulthard’s was a good move, though he and the newly-expanded team had to make everything click together for results.
“I thought Fabian’s pole position was fantastic, but his race performances were a bit underdone in terms of where he finished,” Skaife said.
“They double stacked under green which is not good,” he added.
“You’ve got to have qualifying speed in this category – you’ve got to have it. And they proved that, both himself and Scott Pye,” Ingall said.
“Fabian’s got a bit of … ‘I’ve got a good toy here, I’m going to go alright’.”
Guest driver Michael Caruso suggested Coulthard’s engineer could make all the difference.
“We have Phil Keed going there, he seems to be the master of these cars, everywhere he’s gone, he’s brought success – whether that’s him or the people he brings around him,” Caruso said.
“He [Coulthard] definitely progressed as the weekend went on and I thought that shootout lap was impressive."
The #12 Falcon driver earned 10th, 14th and 16th and sits 17th on the championship ladder.
David Reynolds – Prodrive to Erebus Motorsport
“You would say on paper – and this is with no disrespect to Erebus – it was probably a step back from where he was, which was the championship winning team,” Ingall said.
“No matter where he went it would be seen as a bit of a downward spiral. I think he did well but … he’s got a big question mark because how can you gauge Sunday?”
Not many would have expected Reynolds to have finished Sunday’s race in fifth with all the changes Erebus has been through over the off-season. He was 14th and 19th in Saturday’s races and funnily enough on Sunday, finished just one spot behind his replacement at PRA, Cameron Waters.
Ingall was sceptical about Reynolds keeping up the performance, though.
“I think once he gets to some of the other circuits and especially the permanent circuits he’s going to find that car a lot different to the Falcon.
“And I can guarantee you – because I’ve driven both – there’s a big difference.
“The boy has got a big job ahead of him.”
James Moffat – from Nissan Motorsport to Garry Rogers Motorsport
Team boss Garry Rogers was impressed with Moffat’s performance, even though the numbers may not show it.
No one questioned his move to the Volvo team, which has shown plenty of speed, but he needs more than 17th, 15th and 22nd.
“I was really pumping the tyres up for James Moffat because I really like him as a driver, I’m a big fan of his dad Allan,” Ingall said.
“He’d be really disappointed with that in himself … he’s having a hard time coming to grips with the Volvo.”
A power steering issue in qualifying on Sunday didn’t help, while Moffat’s teammate was quickest in the session.
“Considering Scott McLaughlin was up the pointy end and he was at the blunt end, he wouldn’t be happy with those results,” he said.
Skaife defended Moffat because “the test day was hopeless” for the team at Winton.
But The Enforcer summed it up: “He knows this is a massive opportunity and he has to make the most of it.”
Who do you think made the best moves over the summer? Who do you expect to improve as the season goes on? Join the conversation below.