Team manager Mark Dutton says Triple Eight left Hidden Valley highly encouraged by its development progress, despite being out-classed by championship rivals Shell V-Power Racing.
Jamie Whincup spearheaded the team's charge in both races, continuing his consistent start to the year by finishing fourth on Saturday and second on Sunday.
Although able to lead the Sunday race for a period, Whincup had been more than 0.3s adrift of Shell pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin in the Top 10 Shootout, underlining the current speed of the Falcons.
Hidden Valley followed a rare in-season test for both teams at Queensland Raceway, where the heavyweights both progressed their aggressive development programs.
Describing Hidden Valley as ‘step two’ of its development plan, Dutton believes there’s still plenty more to find in the team’s package.
“If you look purely at the time sheets it doesn’t look like we’ve moved forward, but at the moment we’re trying a few different parts and unfortunately those parts are a journey,” Dutton told Supercars.com.
“We did what we call step one at testing and this was step two and it’s really positive to be that quick and that competitive on step two.
“We’ve done some decent changes this year and we’re not as refined with our car set-up at the moment as we’ve been in the past.
“If you look at being 0.3s down in qualy, that’s worlds away from where we want to be, but breaking it down you can see it’s little bits here and there that we can make up with some refinement.
“When you’re not making big changes, when you’re just fine-tuning like Ludo (Lacroix, Shell V-Power competition director) and those guys are doing, that’s when you get the momentum.
“Qualifying was a perfect example. They were so confident that they could just go out there, get it done (with just one green tyre run for McLaughlin) and then get out of the car.
“It’s easy to do that when you have the momentum, but when you don’t have the outright pace, you have to keep pushing and keep working.
“We still have a lot of work to do before Townsville, but that wouldn’t have changed if we came first and second as well.
“Ludo is doing a good job down there. He’s brought them pace. He’s on fire at the moment.”
Shane van Gisbergen salvaged a third place finish on Sunday from a trying weekend that saw the Kiwi complain of handling issues throughout.
The reigning champion’s woes were compounded by a tyre failure on Saturday, after which he collided with Jason Bright and Garth Tander, putting him out of the race.
Having ruled out there being any broken or incorrectly installed parts early in the weekend, Dutton says the team will analyse back in the workshop why the ongoing handling issue occurred.
“We’ll go through everything and see what we can find,” said Dutton.
“It wasn’t something that we expected and it wasn’t responding to a multitude of changes.
“The comments from Shane about something being broken were because we couldn’t fix it, but we have to keep analysing to understand.
“He was still able to be fast, but he would have been faster without it for sure. It cost us, 100 percent, and it took the focus away from tuning the car in other areas.”
Dutton affirmed that the issue is different to the vibration that frustrated van Gisbergen at the Sydney pre-season test and subsequent Adelaide 500.
That issue was eventually traced to a panel in the back of the car that had not been riveted correctly, creating a buffeting affect at high-speed.