Lee Holdsworth has highlighted improved pitstops as key to progressing through the Supercars field as his Preston Hire Racing team continues to show progress in its second season.
The 34-year-old finished 10th and 12th in the respective races at Hidden Valley but problems during his stops prevented the Holden driver from making further in-roads through the field.
While praising his team, the Preston Hire outfit is half of one of two shared booms in pitlane, with the crew from Brad Jones Racing’s car #21 team working with the car #18 crew throughout the races.
Despite the arrangement being in its second year, the distance between Albury and Melbourne and a mixed supply of equipment has made it difficult for the two teams to practice together.
“I’m really proud of what we’re achieving and how we continue to make inroads into closing the gap to the leaders,” Holdsworth told Supercars.com.
“The consistency is getting better and better, we’re seeing that in our qualifying and our racing.
“Pitstops were not fantastic again, but that’s no fault of our own. BJR’s gun failed on Sunday which cost us six seconds in the race.
“That’s disappointing, we should have come away from the weekend 11th in the championship, but instead we slipped back to 13th.
“There’s so much potential there and we continue to move forward.”
Holdsworth added he is pleased the small outfit has been able to fly under the radar in 2017 after a tough inaugural season as a standalone outfit.
“That’s what we’re there to do. We’re not going out there saying we’re going to win races or get podiums at the moment,” he added.
“We certainly won’t have the chance of getting podiums until we fix the pitstop side of things.
“Our qualifying is very good, when we get it right we’re sixth on the grid. When we don’t we’re 15th.
“We’re just chipping away at the setup with our direction and that’s helping things. Our aim each weekend is to finish top 10 still.
“I want more than that, but you’ve to be realistic. At the moment that’s where our car can be.
“Hopefully further down the track when we hone in on the setup, we can start fighting for top five.”
The three-time race winner explained improved engineering understanding has helped propel the team forward despite running an older specification version of a Triple Eight Commodore.
“We put a lot of it down to my engineer, Chris Stuckey, he’s doing a really good job,” Holdsworth said.
“He doesn’t like to throw everything at it, he likes to chip away, which is probably where the consistency comes from.
“He’s not quick to react when we’re searching for a half a second.
“We don’t search for that whole half a second, we go chipping away at a tenth so the next time we go on track we know exactly what improved or made the car worse.
“There’s nothing different on our car from what we were running at the start of last year.
“It’s a front-end that’s an old spec, but we’re making it work and understanding it more and more.
“In terms of development we haven’t done a hell of a lot, it’s more about understanding the car.”